Andrew Whitworth, Taylor Rapp Out for Rams vs. Buccaneers Because of Injuries

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 21, 2022

Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) takes his stance during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

The Los Angeles Rams will be without key players on both sides of the ball for Sunday's NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters Friday that starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth will miss the game with knee and ankle injuries, while starting safety Taylor Rapp will also be out with a concussion.

Rapp was injured in Week 18 and missed last week's NFC Wild Card Round win over the Arizona Cardinals, while Whitworth got injured in that game.

The 40-year-old Whitworth is the anchor of L.A.'s offensive line, starting 71 of a possible 81 games over the past five seasons.

Whitworth got hurt on the Rams' first offensive play of the game in the NFC Wild Card Round. He did manage to play 30 snaps during the contest, but McVay kept him off the field throughout the second half of a one-sided affair.

The four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro has effectively protected quarterback Matthew Stafford's blindside throughout the season, but Stafford won't have the luxury of Whitworth's presence Sunday.

With Whitworth on the shelf, Joe Noteboom is likely to get the start at left tackle against Tampa Bay's ferocious pass-rush.

Noteboom, 26, was a third-round pick of the Rams in 2018, and he has some starting experience.

The TCU product has started 17 of the 47 games he has appeared in over four seasons, including two in Whitworth's absences this season. Noteboom has yet to start a playoff game.

Rapp enjoyed a career year in 2021, tying for the team lead with four interceptions and finishing second on the team in tackles with 94.

Not having the 24-year-old last week loomed large since the Rams were also without their other starting safety in Jordan Fuller, who is out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.

With both Rapp and Fuller out last week, Los Angeles started Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess at safety.

The 26-year-old Scott had only one regular-season start in 48 career games to his credit, while the 23-year-old Burgess has only started two regular-season games over two campaigns.

Additionally, the Rams brought six-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle out of retirement, and he played 19 defensive snaps against the Cards.

The 37-year-old Weddle hadn't played since 2019 when he suited up for the Rams, but with a week of action under his belt, he could potentially be used even more against Tampa.

The state of L.A.'s safety situation could be a big issue Sunday, as the Rams are going up against arguably the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady.