To say that LA Rams starting offensive left tackle Andrew Whitworth is an ageless wonder in the NFL as he continues to play at a high level as he nears the 40-years-old mark is an understatement. But to say that he is still in the midst of his playing-days prime is naive and foolish.
Whitworth is likely playing in his last NFL season. He’s earned the right to contemplate retirement, now playing in his 16th NFL season and the fifth season with the LA Rams. He joined the Rams organization when head coach Sean McVay took over with the team. He is likely one of the main reasons for the unmatched success over the past five years.
Andrew Whitworth is a fixture for the LA Rams offense, a player whose standards and performance create such dependability and consistency that few truly notice just how good he is until he isn’t. Well, he appeared to struggle a bit in the Week 7 contest against the Detroit Lions, so I was not surprised that he was banged up a bit in the game.
Now the question is, what will the team do in response?
Caution is the best course here
The most obvious answer is to rest him this week as the team prepares to face the Houston Texans. That will give his knee time to heal, and will have him in better shape for Week 8. But we know that minor injuries can become major injuries by pushing a player too hard.
Need an example? In the days leading up to the hamstring injury that ended rookie Jake Funk‘s season, he complained of stiffness in his hamstring. He played anyway, and that did it. Done for the year.
While Jake Funk contributed in a minor role to the LA Rams this year, Andrew Whitworth is a far more vital piece to the Rams playoff picture. Would it be better to rest the guy now, than be forced to replace him later in the season?
Noteboom needs reps
No, I’m not talking bubble wrapping the guy. Not in the least. He is the type of player who will play regardless of his status. I’m talking about making wise decisions for the team, and for the goal of ensuring the Rams post-season roster is as healthy as possible. A week ‘off’ is especially helpful for soft tissue damage, as the healing process is amplified with rest and rehab.
So now the question is, can Joseph Noteboom handle the load for a game? He’s played 22 offensive snaps so far this season, courtesy of the Rams lead in Week 6 allowing the team to rest starters in the fourth quarter.
It would be wise to give Joseph Noteboom the reins in Week 8 to see how he can handle the workload. The Rams would then have a home game against the formidable Tennessee Titans and then travel to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football before the BYE week. After the BYE, the Rams face seven more opponents, many of whom have the 2021 NFL playoffs in their sights.
There is no good time to rest a player. But giving Andrew Whitworth a game off now could be a huge factor at ensuring he is good to go for post-season competition. I say give him a game off to rest, whether or not he wants it. Andrew Whitworth is the type of player who will throw himself on his own sword for the good of the LA Rams organization. It’s the responsibility of the Rams to guarantee that he doesn’t.