THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff underwent surgery Monday to stabilize a broken right thumb and will be sidelined for a Week 17 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, according to coach Sean McVay.
“We felt like that was going to be the best thing to do for him and for our team,” McVay said Monday, adding that Goff had some screws inserted and that he could return for the postseason if the Rams advance.
With a playoff berth at stake, the Rams will turn to backup quarterback John Wolford, who has never appeared in an NFL game since he went undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2018.
In order to clinch a playoff spot, the Rams (9-6), who have dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season, must defeat the Cardinals (8-7) at SoFi Stadium, or have the Green Bay Packers (12-3) beat the Bears (8-7) in Chicago.
The Rams also are in the process of signing quarterback Blake Bortles from the Denver Broncos practice squad to provide depth, according to McVay. Bortles served as Goff’s backup last season and his knowledge of the Rams’ offense could provide a sound option behind Wolford on Sunday if needed.
McVay also left open the possibility that Bryce Perkins, an undrafted rookie on the practice squad, could be promoted to the active roster. Quarterback will not be the only position lacking experience as the Rams attempt a playoff push Sunday. Their running back corps also has recently been struck by injury.
Leading rusher Darrell Henderson Jr. suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday’s 20-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and will be placed on injured reserve, McVay said. And although McVay expressed optimism in breakout rookie Cam Akers‘ recovery from a high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 15, it’s uncertain whether he will return Sunday.
“He’s really made great progress,” McVay said about Akers, who continued to play in the Week 15 23-20 loss to the Jets despite injuring his ankle in the second quarter. “He is a physically tough guy.”
If Akers cannot play, Malcolm Brown will be the only experienced back available, with rookies Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais expected to fill in as needed after serving exclusively on special teams this season.
“Guys will be asked to step up,” McVay said.
Goff dislocated and broke his thumb in the final seconds of the third quarter against the Seahawks when his throwing hand collided with the helmet of defensive end Benson Mayowa. Goff popped his thumb back into place and remained in the game, completing 6 of 14 passes for 74 yards after the injury.
He finished Sunday’s game 24-for-43 for 234 yards, with an interception, as the Rams failed to score an offensive touchdown for only the fifth time, including Super Bowl LIII, since McVay took over as coach in 2017.
A fifth-year pro, Goff has never missed a game since he was promoted to starter with seven games remaining his rookie season (Goff did not play Week 17 2017 when McVay chose to rest starters with a playoff berth clinched).
McVay said Goff’s surgery could allow him to return “potentially a week from now” in time for the playoffs.
“It’s not significant enough that it keeps you out for an elongated period of time,” McVay said. “It’s more about just stabilizing that thing.”
The Rams entered the 2020 season without re-signing Bortles, who played last season on a one-year deal, or signing an experienced backup because of their confidence in Wolford, who spent 2019 on the practice squad.
“What he had shown with the opportunities, whether it be preseason, competitive reps in practice — all this stuff that you’re just evaluating every single thing that he does, we felt good about that,” McVay said. “So really it was a reflection of the confidence in John.”
The Rams signed Wolford after he played in eight games for the Arizona Hotshots of the since-folded Alliance of American Football. Wolford earned offensive player of the week twice and led the league with 14 touchdowns.
“John’s done a great job preparing himself all year if you watch and you know the way that he’s worked at it,” McVay said. “I know there’s confidence from coaches and from his teammates and guys will need to rally around him, but we’re excited about the opportunity that john will have to lead the offense this week.”