Goff could return a week later if the Rams make the playoffs, coach Sean McVay said Monday night.
John Wolford will take his first shots in the NFL as a replacement for Goff when the Rams (9-6) host the Cardinals on Sunday. Los Angeles will clinch a playoff berth with a win, or if the Chicago Bears lose to Green Bay.
“John has done a great job preparing all year,” McVay said. “You watch him work, and the way he’s prepared, I know there’s confidence in him with his teammates. He put himself in a good position where he could step in and lead the offensive. ”
The Rams will also be without race leader Darrell Henderson, who heads to the reserve injured with a sprained ankle. Rookie running back Cam Akers could come back from his own sprained ankle after missing just one game, McVay said.
Rookie Bryce Perkins will be in uniform as a backup quarterback on Sunday, and Los Angeles also plans to sign veteran Blake Bortles, who spent last season as Goff’s replacement before moving this season to Denver, where he was part of the training team.
Wolford has spent the last two seasons with the Rams after a solid season with the Alliance of American Football. The Wake Forest product was the third player behind Goff and Bortles last season before moving up to No.2 this year, but he didn’t play for the Rams.
“We’re feeling good” with Wolford in charge, center Austin Blythe said. “We have the greatest confidence in John to go out and play. It is still our attack. We will always call the same games. Nothing is going to change from our point of view (or) from the point of view of attitude. It just comes down to execution. ”
Goff hasn’t missed a game with injury during his five-year NFL career, sitting down just one game when McVay rested his starters in the 2017 regular season finale. injured his thumb when he slapped his hand on Seattle defensive end Benson Mayowa’s helmet in the second half of the Rams’ 20-9 loss to the Seahawks last Sunday.
Goff played the rest of the game with the injury, but had surgery to insert screws into his thumb on Monday. Goff had to be persuaded to have surgery instead of hardening it this week, McVay said.
“He should actually be available, if we’re able to handle the business, for the playoffs – which is pretty amazing,” McVay said. “You need to make sure that sometimes you help make the decision or paint a picture of why it’s the smart thing for the longevity of your career, and not just short-sighted. ”
Wolford has never had any action in his first 31 games with the Rams, but his coaches and teammates seem confident in his ability to play a leading role. The 6-foot-1 Wolford, who is significantly smaller and more mobile than Goff, spends his weeks with the scout squad masquerading as quarterbacks for Rams opponents, from Kyler Murray to Jimmy Garoppolo.
“We have a great guy at John Wolford,” said running back Malcolm Brown. “Not just me, but the whole team has confidence in him. I know John will be prepared for it. ”
Goff is 10th in the NFL with 3,952 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’s been in free fall the past six games, totaling 1,505 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
With Henderson out and Akers ‘availability uncertain, Brown will likely be the Rams’ return. Longtime replacement for Todd Gurley has shared three-way tandem litters in Los Angeles backfield this season.
Undrafted rookie running back Xavier Jones is also likely to have a chance in the backfield, McVay said. Jones, an SMU product, made the training camp roster, but played exclusively on special teams.
“He’s a really sneaky guy,” Brown said of Jones. “I haven’t seen a lot of guys like him. One-on-one you can bet on him making a guy miss. He can do anything. I’m pretty excited he’s getting into the rhythm of things. ”