Quarterback John Wolford will play the first half for the Los Angeles Rams in Friday evening’s preseason game against the Houston Texans at SoFi Stadium in his first preseason action since the 2019 preseason finale, coincidentally against Houston.
Coach Sean McVay said he is deviating from his usual philosophy of not playing starters or other key players in preseason games to avoid the possibility of injuries to give Wolford an opportunity for “valuable experience” if an injury to Matthew Stafford forces Wolford to play in the regular season.
“If he did have to do something, we feel like this would be the best opportunity for John to get in there, get into a rhythm and routine,” McVay told reporters Wednesday at the Rams training facility at California Lutheran University. “It was really just something that kind of just thinking about what’s the best way to set up John for the most success. We felt like him playing this week would be that.”
When asked what he wants to see from Wolford Friday night, McVay responded, “I think good operation, be able to sustain drives and score points is always the most important thing. But I think making good decisions, getting us in and out of the right things based on whatever Houston’s defense presents and just overall good command.”
Wolford last played Dec. 5, handing off in each of the Rams’ final five offensive plays in a 37-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also played in two other games in 2021, throwing two incomplete passes with one interception in a 38-11 victory over the New York Giants Oct. 17 and completing one of two passes for five yards in a 38-22 victory over the Texans Oct. 31.
Wolford’s most extensive official appearance since signing with the Rams in 2019 came in the 2020 regular-season finale, when he started in place of the injured Jared Goff and completed 22 of 38 passes for 231 yards with one interception in an 18-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals that assured the Rams of a playoff berth.
The Rams would have been assured of a playoff berth even if they had lost that Jan. 3, 2021 because of the Chicago Bears’ 35-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers in a game that began at the same time as the Rams’ game.
Wolford also started the Rams’ wild-card round playoff game six days later but left the game on the Rams’ second possession when he suffered a neck injury that caused him to be taken to a hospital. Wolford was able to return to Lumen Field in time to join his teammates in locker room celebrating in the 30-20 upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Wolford signed with the Rams after starting seven of eight games for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football which folded eight games into its inaugural season. He was fourth on the Rams’ depth chart during his first training camp.
Wolford was a four-year starter at Wake Forest and spent the 2018 season on the New York Jets’ practice squad.
McVay said quarterback Bryce Perkins would play the second half. Perkins completed 10 of 17 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, both to undrafted rookie receiver Lance McCutcheon, in the 29-22 preseason opening victory over the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday.
Rams’ kicker Matt Gay is expected to make his 2022 debut while Riley Dixon is expected to punt for the first time. Undrafted rookie Cameron Dicker both punted and kicked in the preseason opener but was among five players cut Tuesday to reach the 85-player limit. Dixon’s only action in the preseason opener was holding on three extra point kicks.
Defensive tackle Bobby Brown III will be sidelined for “a few weeks” due a lateral ankle sprain suffered in the preseason opener which he started, McVay said. Brown was suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2022 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances but was eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.
Running back Kyren Williams miss his second preseason game because of a broken foot sustained in organized team activities that required surgery, McVay said.
“We’ll look into potentially playing him against the Bengals, but he’s done a great job and want to just be smart with him,” McVay said, referring to the Aug. 27 preseason finale at Cincinnati. “But we will see about getting him some preseason experience before that game against the Bills rolls around.”