May 19, 2024

Light rain fell as Rams quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz went through practice Wednesday.

For Stafford, it was the first major test since suffering a right thumb sprain that sidelined him for the Rams’ defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 5. The 15th-year pro wore a soft brace on his right hand but otherwise appeared unencumbered as he zipped passes in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Seattle Seahawks.

“It was kind of nice to just get back out there and get my feet wet again, literally and figuratively,” Stafford said.

For Wentz, it was the first full workout since signing last week. The eighth-year pro joined the Rams after playing five seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles and one each with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders.

“The hardest part is just learning the playbook as quick as humanly possible,” he said. “Been in weird situations the last couple of years. I’ve had to learn the playbook every year, never in-season like this, so sometimes I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose at times.

“Just trying to accumulate what I can. But Stafford’s been an awesome help, the coaches have been great and just trying to soak it up as quick as I can.”

Stafford, 35, is on track to start against the Seahawks as the Rams (3-6) attempt to end a three-game losing streak. The condition of Stafford’s thumb will not shrink the playbook, according to coach Sean McVay.

“Don’t expect it to limit our ability to operate the way we were planning,” McVay said.

Stafford passed for eight touchdowns with seven interceptions before he was injured during a rout by the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) dives for a two-point conversion against the Dallas Cowboys.

Matthew Stafford (9) dives for a two-point conversion against the Dallas Cowboys, the third jolt on an injured thumb in this game that sidelined the Rams quarterback for one game.

(Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

Stafford said his right hand absorbed contact on three plays. The final blow came when he caught a two-point conversion pass, fell to the ground and his thumb got pulled “in a not-fun direction,” he said.

Stafford tried but was unable to grip a ball on the sideline. He underwent tests in the locker room and sat out most of the second half.

“I thought it was going to be quite a bit worse than it was,” he said of the injury. “So I was just happy it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Stafford is no stranger to right thumb injuries. In 2020 with the Detroit Lions, he played the second half of the season with a similar condition. Before the 2021 season, after he had been traded to the Rams, he had a procedure to repair the damage.

“Done it before,” he said of playing through the injury. “Can do it again.”

Stafford benefited from the off week, which gave him extra time to heal. The week also enabled players such as offensive lineman Rob Havenstein and linebacker Ernest Jones to rest and rehabilitate injuries.

“I’m a huge fan of the bye — especially at this point in my career,” Stafford said, chuckling. “Whenever it wants to show up, I’m ready for it. If you want to have two of them, I’m cool with that too.

“For me, it definitely was the right time and I do think for our team as well.”

After the 20-3 loss to the Packers, the Rams waived backup Brett Rypien and signed Wentz, who finished last season as the Commanders’ No. 3 quarterback.

After the Commanders released him, Wentz spent months waiting for a call from another team. Around the start of training camp, he said his agent suggested he spend a few days with former NFL coach Jon Gruden.

“I just wanted to go talk football, go study tape, have someone be honest and critical of my game, where I can get better,” Wentz said. “And just to spend a couple days with him was a lot of fun and really challenging, and kind of got my mind back in football mode a little bit too.

“So I was thankful for his help.”

Once the season began, Wentz spent Mondays waiting for a call from a needy team. To stay in shape, he said he threw passes to his older brother and friends.

In 2016, the Rams considered selecting Wentz with the top pick in the draft. They chose quarterback Jared Goff instead, and the Eagles took Wentz with the second pick.

Seven years later, the Rams finally called.

Wentz agreed to terms last Tuesday, signed with the Rams on Wednesday and then returned to Indianapolis for the birth of his third daughter Friday. He’s happy to be back on an NFL roster.

“The NFL has a way of humbling everybody,” Wentz said, adding, “I’m no dummy. I’ve seen it all. I know how this league works and I know kind of how last year ended — and I didn’t play good enough. …

“We all desire to be the guy playing, don’t get me wrong. I think everyone would be lying to you if they said differently. But we also know this is a hard business. It’s a hard league, and just to be on a team, to be around the guys is a blessing regardless. So I’m thankful for the opportunity and I’ll help in whatever way I can.”

Wentz is “eager to learn,” Stafford said.

“The talent that he has and some of the success he’s had in this league, it’s somewhat obvious to me,” Stafford said. “So I’m happy to have him, and just happy he’s getting a shot to come in and help us out.”

Though it has been only a few days, McVay said the two quarterbacks have melded well.

“It’s really important to watch the interaction and feel the rapport that exists between your guys in the quarterback room,” McVay said. “And Matthew does such a great job of leading that way, and Carson’s got a lot of experience, and you can see it’s been smooth so far.”

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