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NFL: Virus-thinned Rams now face desperate Seahawks on Tuesday

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The Los Angeles Rams could really use a bye.

What they will get instead is at least a two-day respite as their home game scheduled for Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks has been moved to Tuesday. It was one of three games the NFL elected to push back because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Rams (9-4) won 30-23 at Arizona on Monday night to pull within a game of the NFC West-leading Cardinals. Los Angeles notched the victory with five players in the NFL’s virus protocol, including All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, running back Darrell Henderson Jr. and tight end Tyler Higbee.

By Thursday evening, the Rams had 25 players in the protocol and had been forced to close their practice facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The team had nine COVID additions Thursday, including veteran linebacker Von Miller. There were four more additions to the list Friday to make it 29 total, including tight end Tyler Higbee, who was deemed to have a false positive last week, but is now considered positive again.

“I am very surprised, because you feel like you’re behind it when everybody is vaccinated and you’re moving in the right direction,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Without a doubt, we have never experienced anything of this magnitude as it relates to COVID. This is definitely something that’s been eye-opening.”

The Rams had four players ruled out just hours before Monday’s game, forcing them to rework their plan on the fly.

“There’s no time to say, ‘We’re going to scrap this and adjust,'” McVay said. “At least if you have an idea of who’s going to be available and who’s not, you can plan accordingly throughout the course of the week. What they did (Monday) gives me confidence.”

Quarterback Matthew Stafford and league-leading receiver Cooper Kupp have avoided the protocol, and running back Sony Michel has given the ground game a boost. Defensively, the Rams still have lineman Aaron Donald, who had three sacks Monday, and Miller, acquired from Denver at the trade deadline.

The Seahawks (5-8) have won two in a row, including a 33-13 victory Sunday at Houston as Rashaad Penny rushed for a career-high 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Unlike the Rams, the Seahawks are one of only four NFL teams without a player in the protocol.

“We are holding on right now,” Carroll said of Seattle’s COVID-19 situation.

Of course, he could’ve also been talking about his team’s playoff chances. Seattle could still get to 9-8 in the new 17-game regular season, but there’s a lot of road between Week 15 and the finish line.

“Here we go, we are in the last month of the season, and we’ve got a shot to make it through,” Carroll said.

Along with Russell Wilson getting back on track after midseason finger surgery – he was hurt when hitting the middle finger of his throwing hand against the Rams’ Donald in a 26-17 loss on Oct. 7 in Seattle – the Seahawks’ much-maligned defense has gone eight straight games allowing opponents 23 points or fewer.

“We just got to keep our heads down and keep playing,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We can’t look up and see who we have next or anything like that. You’ve just got to keep getting better each week and see what happens.”

The Seahawks have had several players sit out practice this week, including wide receivers DK Metcalf (foot/back), Freddie Swain (ankle) and Dee Eskridge (foot), offensive linemen Gabe Jackson (knee) and Brandon Shell (shoulder), linebacker Carlos Dunlap II (quadriceps) and safety Quandre Diggs (knee).

–Field Level Media

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