Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said he’s not feeling any pressure in the lead-up to their first playoff game. The 32-year-old has led his team on four straight winning seasons, and says the players have built enough of a culture around him that they believe anything can happen.
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10:33 p.m. Eastern
Brady Henderson is a professional football player. ESPN
Matthew Stafford, quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams, insists his toe is OK and won’t affect him in Monday night’s wild-card playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals.
And no, you won’t be able to see it.
During his weekly media conference on Thursday, Stafford poked fun at Aaron Rodgers, a lighthearted interlude among more serious queries about the quarterback’s quest to win a playoff game for the first time in his 13-year NFL career.
Stafford claimed his toe was landed on awkwardly late last Sunday when the Rams fell 27-24 to the San Francisco 49ers, the NFC West champions.
“However, it’s going OK,” he remarked. “I’ll be on the lookout. I’ll be ready to leave in no time.”
When Stafford was asked whether his toe would affect how he steps into passes, Rodgers cracked a joke. During a Zoom session in November, the Green Bay Packers quarterback showed reporters his bare foot as evidence that he didn’t have “COVID toe,” but rather a fracture.
“I don’t believe so,” Stafford said. “On Monday, I believe I should be in great shape. I’d reveal it to you, but I’m not interested in doing so. That’s something for the other men to handle. In this one, I’ll keep my toes to myself. However, it is doing well. I think I’ll be OK.”
Stafford was labeled as a full participant by the Rams on Thursday, albeit that was an estimate based on a walk-through.
Stafford was asked how much he believes he has to prove himself since he has yet to win a postseason game. While with the Detroit Lions, he lost all three of his outings.
“Every time I go on the field, whether it’s a preseason game, a regular-season game, practice, or a playoff game, I’m proving myself,” he added. “I want to do well on the field. This is only one more chance to do so.”
According to Stafford, the pressure in Los Angeles is similar to that in Detroit. However, considering how heavily the Rams have filled up their squad in order to win Super Bowl LVI on their own ground, the stakes may be higher.
Last summer, Stafford was acquired, and he had an usual productive regular season, throwing for 4,886 yards (third in the NFL) and a career-high-tying 41 touchdown passes (second) in 17 games. However, he and rookie Trevor Lawrence shared for the league lead with 17 interceptions. During the last three games of the season, he threw seven interceptions and lost a fumble.
Coach Sean McVay said, “I appreciate the competitiveness, the way we won that division, win 12 games with him, the standards that he has for himself.” “One of the things I like most about this person is that the first thing he’ll do is accept full responsibility and accountability for the areas he can improve. As a competitor, I believe there is an occupational danger with some of the turnovers. They don’t all fall on him, to be sure. However, the answer is yes, I’m really happy with him.
“I’m looking forward to him playing really clean ball in the playoffs, trusting his teammates, and playing the way he’s capable of, and I feel very amazing things will happen for this club if he just plays within himself.”
Stafford, who is 33 years old, does not need to show he can win a playoff game, according to McVay.
“I believe he has a well-established résumé,” McVay added. “That’s something I believe you’d want to be able to accomplish. He was essential in helping us to our first divisional championship since 2018, which is a huge accomplishment, but now it’s time to move on. But I don’t believe you can just say, “Oh, he hasn’t won a playoff game.” His body of work speaks for itself, and I don’t think you can simply say, “Oh, he hasn’t won a playoff game.””
Stafford lost in the playoffs three times: in 2011 (at New Orleans), 2014 (at Dallas), and 2016 (at Seattle). If it hadn’t been for a contentious decision, McVay believes the Cowboys game might have ended differently. Midway through the fourth quarter, Detroit was up three points when officials penalised Dallas for pass interference on third down, only to overturn the ruling, resulting in a Detroit punt and a squandered lead.
“It was a poor decision,” McVay added, “and I’m probably going to be punished for even saying it.” “In all seriousness, here’s what’s strange about this game: the narrative is that if that call isn’t made, he’ll almost certainly win a playoff game, and it’s like, did he really play any differently as a result?”
Despite his shoulder injury, McVay says cornerback Darious Williams would be ready to play Monday night. Jalen Ramsey, the team’s starting opposite cornerback, was classified as a full participant on Thursday. Safety Taylor Rapp is making excellent progress, according to McVay, but is still out due to the concussion protocol.
Because of Rapp’s concussion and Jordan Fuller’s season-ending ankle injury, the Rams decided to pull Eric Weddle, 37, out of retirement and sign him to their practice squad this week. McVay said his specific position is still being worked out, but Weddle made it clear that he expects to play Monday and that he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t.
“When you play for as long as I did, football becomes a part of who you are,” he said. “So, even though I haven’t played football in over a year and a half, I still train as if I did, despite the fact that it was never even a distant possibility since I was very well set in my choice and quite pleased. This isn’t because I had an itch or anything like that; it was just a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
Weddle has stayed close to McVay and is a longstanding buddy of Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who is in his first season with the team. Weddle mistook a text from Morris earlier this week for a request for Cardinals information when he saw it.
“Then the discussion began, and he said, ‘You aren’t big and out of shape, are you?’” Weddle explained. “I knew what was going to happen as soon as he said it.”
Weddle, a six-time Pro Bowler, most recently appeared in the Rams’ regular-season finale in 2019. On Monday, it will be 750 days since the event. He said that his timing and tackles are rusty, but that he is physically “fantastic.”
He said, “Obviously, preparation for an NFL season is unlike anything else.” “You won’t be able to get it outside on your own. And although I don’t claim to be at that level, I have done things like train and play five-on-five once or twice a week. Basketball is one of my favorite sports since it allows me to change directions, jump, and start and stop. I came out yesterday and ran and lifted as if I had spent the whole season here. I won’t claim to be at that level. Every NFL player who has put in the time and effort has been discredited as a result of this. But I wouldn’t be sitting here right now if I didn’t believe I could go out there and be who I’m supposed to be.”
Cam Akers, the Rams’ running back, was not noted on the practice report, suggesting that he did not participate fully. In his first game back from an Achilles injury sustained over the summer, Akers played 13 plays last week. On eight touches against the 49ers, he garnered 13 yards.
“I do feel 100 percent,” he remarked, “but expressing that probably won’t make you believe it.” “I’d prefer you go play ball and show everyone that you’re 100 percent. I’m not going to exhibit myself since I already know who I am. Simply go out and create plays.”
The “matthew stafford religion” is a story about the Los Angeles Rams quarterback’s toe. Stafford was quoted as saying that he was not feeling pressure to win his first playoff game.
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