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Rams hard at work despite earning bye

By The Sports Xchange
Rams hard at work despite earning bye
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (R) and coach Sean McVay chat on the sidelines during the NFC wild card playoffs last season. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

The Los Angeles Rams will continue to stay hard at work despite earning a bye through the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.

Players will continue to visit the team's headquarters this week and go through light workouts Wednesday and Thursday before beginning full preparations for their Jan. 12 divisional-round game at the L.A. Coliseum.

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The Rams, seeded No. 2 in the NFC behind the New Orleans Saints, will play the highest-seeded team remaining after the wild-card games this weekend.

The fourth-seeded Dallas Cowboys play host to the fifth-seeded Seattle Seahawks and the third-seeded Chicago Bears play host to the sixth-seeded Philadelphia Eagles this weekend.

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Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said in a teleconference Monday that the Rams will focus on getting healthy and work on fundamentals this week.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth told the Los Angeles Times that this is a "preparation week," not a week off.

"This week is to just fine tune and really get ourselves clicking on all cylinders for the final stretch," he said.

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Whitworth left Sunday's 48-32 victory over the San Francisco 49ers because of a bruised knee. He collided with another player's knee.

"It's nothing," he said. "I could've played. It was more precautionary."

McVay said Whitworth will be "ready to roll for the playoffs."

"Thank God it wasn't anything worse than that," he said.

Other players who need the extra week to heal include safety Blake Countess (in concussion protocol), running back Todd Gurley (sat out the last two games because of knee soreness), and safety Lamarcus Joyner (sidelined Sunday because of an ankle injury suffered the previous week against the Arizona Cardinals).

Gurley was making "good progress," McVay said, but remains day-to-day.

"I would be very, very surprised if he wasn't going to be ready to go for the playoffs," McVay said, "but I think we're going to be smart with whether he goes or not this week with those extra days.

"We'll still continue to have that same rehab program. He's taking steps in the right direction and I would be very surprised if he's not feeling good, ready to roll for our divisional game."

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Aaron Donald, who finished the season with a league-best 20 1/2 sacks, told the Times he will use the week to "stay fresh, keep working, try to find a way to get better."

Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor will be busy with job interviews. The Cardinals and the Cincinnati Bengals were granted permission to interview him about their vacant head coach positions. The Bengals also were given permission to interview passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, McVay said.

"These days are just gut-wrenching as a coach," McVay said of Monday's firings of eight head coaches. "It makes you sick and you hate to see it and it's an unfortunate part of this business."

--RB Todd Gurley, who missed the last two games with knee soreness, will continue to rehabilitate his knee and should be ready for the Rams' divisional-round playoff game Jan. 12.

--S Blake Countess missed Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers because he is in concussion protocol. Coach Sean McVay said Countess was "in good shape" on Monday.

--S Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) also missed the last two games of the regular season. His status for the playoff game Jan. 12 is uncertain.

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--LT Andrew Whitworth left the game Sunday early because of a bruised knee. The injury should not prevent him from playing Jan. 12 in the divisional-round playoff game.

--DT Aaron Donald finished with 20.5 sacks in the regular season, two sacks shy of the NFL season record set by Michael Strahan 17 years ago. "If it happened it happened, if it didn't it didn't," said Donald, who had a sack against San Francisco on Sunday. "I was just trying to make as many plays as I can and affect the game and try to come up with a win and we did that."

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