Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has said his toe is fine and shouldn’t affect it in Monday night’s wildcard playoff game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
And no, you can’t see it.
Stafford gave Aaron Rodgers a friendly dig in his weekly media session on Thursday, a moment of levity amid bigger questions about the quarterback trying to win a playoff game for the first time in his 13-year career in the NFL.
Stafford said his toe landed awkwardly late last Sunday as NFC champion West Rams lost 27-24 to the San Francisco 49ers.
“But it’s going well,” he said. “I’ll be there. I’ll be ready to go.”
Rodgers’ joke came when Stafford was asked if his toe would have an impact on how he went into throws. The Green Bay Packers quarterback presented his bare foot to reporters during a Zoom session in November as proof he did not have a “COVID toe” but a fracture instead.
“No, I don’t think so,” Stafford said. “I think I should feel really good on Monday. I’ll show it to you but I don’t want to do this. It’s up to the other guys to do it. I’ll keep my toes to myself in this one. But it’s do. okay, i should be okay.
The Rams listed Stafford as a full participant on Thursday, although that was an estimate as they arranged a visit.
Stafford was asked how much he feels he needs to prove himself, having yet to win a playoff game. He lost all three of his appearances with the Detroit Lions.
“Every time I step on the field, I prove myself, whether it’s a preseason game or a regular season game, a practice, a playoff game,” he said. “I want to go there and play well. It’s just another chance to do it.”
Stafford said the pressure was no different in Los Angeles compared to Detroit. Expectations could be higher, however, given how heavily the Rams loaded their roster with the goal of winning Super Bowl LVI at home.
That included last offseason trade for Stafford, who delivered a generally prolific regular season with 4,886 yards (third in the NFL) and 41 touchdowns (second) in 17 games, a career record. However, his 17 interceptions were tied for the most part in the league with rookie Trevor Lawrence. He threw seven interceptions in the last three games and lost a fumble in that streak.
“I like the competitiveness, the way we win this division, win 12 games with him, the standards he has for himself,” said coach Sean McVay. “One of the best things I love most about this guy is the first thing he’s going to do is take ownership and report on the things he can do better. I think there are. professional risk with some of the turnovers as a competitor, they sure don’t all fall on him, but the answer is yes, I’m very happy with him.
“I’m looking forward to playing a very clean playoff ball, trusting his teammates, playing the way he’s capable, and if he plays fair to himself I hope a very good things will happen for this team. “
McVay said he didn’t think the 33-year-old Stafford needed to prove he could win a playoff game.
“I think he has a well established resume,” McVay said. “I think that’s something you want to be able to do. He helped lead us to our first division title that we’ve had in 18 and that’s a big deal, but now it’s the next step. But I think his body of work speaks for itself and I don’t think you can just say ‘Oh, he didn’t win a playoff game.’ “
Stafford’s playoff losses came after the 2011 (New Orleans), 2014 (Dallas) and 2016 (Seattle) seasons. McVay noted that the Cowboys game could have gone differently without a controversial appeal. Detroit had a three-point lead midway through the fourth quarter when officials signaled Dallas with a pass interference on the third down to reverse the appeal, leading to a Detroit punt and a possible blown lead.
“It was a bad decision that I’ll probably be fined for even mentioning,” McVay said. “Seriously, here’s what’s crazy about this game – the narrative is that, but more than likely, if that call isn’t made, he’s probably won a playoff game and it’s like, did did it really play out differently as a result of that? “
McVay said cornerback Darious Williams would be ready to leave Monday night despite his shoulder injury. The team registered their starter against Jalen Ramsey as a full participant on Thursday. Safety Taylor Rapp is making good progress, according to McVay, but remains on the sidelines during the concussion protocol.
The concussion of Rapp and his security colleague Jordan Fuller’s season-ending ankle injury led the Rams to fire Eric Weddle, 37, from his two-year retirement this week and to the ” enroll in their training team. McVay said his exact role remains to be determined, but Weddle left no doubt that he expects to play on Monday and said he wouldn’t be here otherwise.
“Once you play as long as I do, the football becomes who is,” he said. “So even though I haven’t played soccer I still train like I’m playing soccer although that has never been a far away possibility over the past year and a half because I was at pretty much fixed in my decision and very happy. It’s by no means the itchy one or anything; it was just an opportunity of a lifetime, quite honestly. “
Weddle has remained close to McVay and is a longtime friend of Raheem Morris, who is in his first season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator. When Weddle saw a text from Morris earlier this week, he thought DC was firing him for information on the Cardinals.
“Then the conversation started and he was like, ‘You’re not fat and out of shape, are you?’” Said Weddle. “As soon as he said that, I knew what was to follow.”
Weddle, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, last played in the 2019 Rams regular season finale. Monday will mark 750 days since then. He admitted his timing and tackles could be rusty, but said he felt “amazing” physically.
“Obviously, training for an NFL season is like nothing else,” he said. “You can’t do this on your own. And I’m not saying I’m at that level, but I’ve done things both practicing and playing five-on-five once or twice a week. I love basketball and this change of direction, jump, start and stop. I went out yesterday and I ran and lifted and it felt like I had been here all season. I won’t say that I’m at that level. It discredits all the NFL players it took time and effort. But if I didn’t feel able to go out there and be what I’m meant to be, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. “
Running back Cam Akers was not on the Rams’ training report, indicating he was a full participant. Akers played 13 snaps last week in his first comeback from the Achilles tear he suffered over the summer. He gained 13 yards on eight touches against the 49ers.
“I feel like I’m 100%, but saying that probably doesn’t make you believe it,” he said. “I’d rather just go play ball, show people you’re 100%. Not myself because I already know that. Go ahead and play games.”