LA Rams must face Vikings without LT Andrew Whitworth
The hope for this week was that the LA Rams would reclaim all of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 and avoid losing any additional players testing positive through the end of the playoffs. Well, that didn’t happen, and the Rams are once more pressed into replacing one of their landmark players with nearly no advance warning.
But even as the Rams were getting players back, disaster has struck once more:
It isn’t as though the LA Rams haven’t offensive linemen on the roster. It’s just that the LA Rams have gone exclusively with Joseph Noteboom as the backup for Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, and right now Noteboom remains on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 roster. That means, much like the team’s struggles in Week 15 with no clear player to assume the starting role at right tackle with Rob Haventstein, now the same challenge faces the LA Rams at left tackle. So how will the Rams address this one?
The LA Rams started Bobby Evans at right tackle in Week 15. Now with Whitworth out and Havenstein back, the most likely scenario is that the Rams will move Evans to the left tackle spot and try to augment his performance by lining up tight ends and running backs to help in pass protection.
Evans may not have been an orange pylon or roadkill in his Week 15 performance, he did struggle mightily at times. In Week 16, he would be up against a fearsome Minnesota Vikings pass rush that currently leads the NFL with 44 quarterback sacks in just 14 games played.
If the LA Rams are not warm and fuzzy with Evans protecting Stafford’s blindside, the team has other options, but perhaps none are ideal right now.
Move Edwards to left tackle – This option has the advantage of moving David Edwards to his natural position. Of course, that creates a void in the interior offensive line. That could be filled by Coleman Shelton. The plus is that the Rams would get probably their best option at the most important offensive line position. The downside is that the Rams would not only have a player at left tackle who has not played there for them but compounds the issue by pitting Shelton at left guard, a spot he has not played before.
Start Tremayne Anchrum Jr. – This option has some merits. Anchrum Jr. has been trained to play at the left tackle spot for the LA Rams in 2020 and had shown some promise in the role. Of course, not enough promise as the Rams opted to play Joseph Noteboom at the position. But if Noteboom is not an option, does the team go with Anchrum? This solution keeps four starters in their spots and saves Evans for the role of sixth offensive lineman if and when the Rams choose that personnel grouping.
The absence of Andrew Whitworth is bad news indeed. The absence of both Whitworth and Noteboom is horrific. Hopefully, the Rams can adapt quickly enough to extend their winning streak.