THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Thanks to an effective sports medicine program and a little bit of luck, Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay has plenty of cohesion with his roster.
Kicker was the one position with uncertainty this week, but it now seems to be settled, even if McVay isn’t announcing the outcome.
The Rams will use their third kicker in four weeks when they visit Tampa Bay on Monday night, and former Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay appears to be the choice. Although McVay declined to publicly confirm his choice between Gay and practice squad member Austin MacGinnis, the team added Gay to the active roster Saturday ahead of its final practice before traveling to Florida.
“We do have some pretty good clarity, but we’ll not share that with you guys right now,” McVay said.
The Rams (6-3) have been unsettled at kicker since choosing not to re-sign Greg Zuerlein in the offseason. Gay will replace Kai Forbath, who injured his ankle against Seattle last Sunday and is on injured reserve. Forbath had been brought in to replace rookie Samuel Sloman, who missed three field goals and three extra points in seven games before being cut.
Gay was signed off the Indianapolis practice squad on Wednesday but had to clear COVID-19 protocols before participating in team activities. McVay said Gay got to “showcase his stuff” in practice Saturday after watching MacGinnis earlier in the week.
“So the good news is that with either one of these players, we feel really good about our situation, very confident,” McVay said. “It’ll be a good thing for us on Monday.”
Gay, a fifth-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2019 draft, made 27 of 35 field goals and 43 of 48 extra points as a rookie. Struggles on kicks longer than 40 yards, where he made 16 of 22 attempts (72.7%), led to a training camp competition with Ryan Succop.
Succop won the job for the Buccaneers (7-3) and Gay was cut in September.
McVay did not rule out having both Gay and MacGinnis on the roster before deciding on a kicker Monday, a luxury he can consider because of the Rams’ small number of injuries.
Los Angeles has two players on the injury report, with backup center Brian Allen doubtful to play because of a knee injury. Linebacker Terrell Lewis was added Saturday after being unable to practice because of illness.
The Rams have been one of the league’s healthiest teams since Reggie Scott became director of sports medicine in 2011. They have been especially adept at avoiding soft tissue injuries, which was even more of a concern given limited preparations going into this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think that’s been one of our edges,” McVay said. “I’ve said this before, long before I got here, the Rams have been a consistently healthy team.”
There have been the usual ailments a contact sport produces. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth will miss up to two months because of a knee injury he sustained against Seattle while pass blocking. Safety Jordan Fuller is on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury he aggravated on the final defensive snap at Washington. But a lack of lingering injuries from pulled muscles and the like gives the Rams valuable continuity.
“They do a great job. I’ve been healthy, a lot of guys on our team have been healthy. I mean injuries happen, it’s football, but I think they’re really good at their jobs,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said, before adding one caveat.
“I try not to see them too much, you know what I mean?”
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