In what has been a speculative saga regarding the injury status of quarterback Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams put an end to the rumors Monday evening when head coach Sean McVay confirmed to local media that the team's starting signal-caller will not play in Week 17 against the Arizona Cardinals after having surgery to repair a broken right thumb.
Goff sustained the injury in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks after making contact with the helmet of defensive end Benson Mayowa. Per reports, Goff subsequently popped his thumb back in place and finished the game, which ended in a 20-9 loss. With the Cardinals having also lost to the San Francisco 49ers this past weekend, both teams are eager for a win in order to qualify for the playoffs.
For the Cardinals, their only path to the postseason is with a win over the Rams, or a tie and a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, the Rams can either beat Arizona, or lose and have the Packers defeat the Bears.
In Goff's absence, the Rams will start quarterback John Wolford, who spent the 2019 season (February to April) with the Arizona Hotshots in the Alliance of American Football. He subsequently was signed by the Rams and was on the practice squad for the entire 2019 NFL season. He has never attempted a pass in the regular season of an NFL game. Additionally, the team plans to elevate practice-squad rookie quarterback Bryce Perkins to the active roster to serve as Wolford's backup.
McVay also confirmed Monday that the Rams will try and sign quarterback Blake Bortles to the active roster off the Denver Broncos practice squad as additional depth. Bortles was Goff's main backup last season, with Wolford repping on the scout team with the practice squad all year. Bortles played in three games for Los Angeles in 2019, but only attempted two passes, completing one for three yards.
If the Rams qualify for the postseason, McVay said Goff will likely be available for the first game. He completed 37 of 47 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown in a 38-28 win over the Cardinals in Week 13.
Meanwhile, Arizona may be without the services of starting quarterback Kyler Murray, who suffered a lower leg injury on the last offensive play of Saturday's loss to the 49ers. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he is "hopeful" Murray will be available with a playoff berth on the line, but "we're not going to put him out there if he can't play at a high level and doesn't feel safe to play."
If Murray cannot go, the Cardinals will have to decide between backups Chris Streveler and Brett Hundley. Kingsbury gave some conflicting answers Monday as to who the team would start in Murray's potential absence.
In other roster news for the Rams, running back Darrell Henderson was placed on reserve/injured with an ankle injury. He rushed for 49 yards and one touchdown on three carries against the Cardinals in early December.
Running back Cam Akers, who missed the Seahawks game with a high ankle sprain, may also be available against the Cardinals Sunday, per McVay. He paced the Los Angeles rushing attack against Arizona in Week 13 with 72 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries.