Seasons for Matthew Stafford, Rams hang in balance as QB is evaluated for concussion

Matthew Stafford, quarterback de los Rams de Los Ángeles, es capturado por Tanoh Kpassagnon, de los Saints de Nueva Orleáns, el domingo 20 de noviembre de 2022 (AP Foto/Gerald Herbert)
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford took his licks against the New Orleans Saints, including this sack by Tanoh Kpassagnon (90), and suffered a concussion during a 27-20 loss Sunday. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Matthew Stafford’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs — and beyond — remained uncertain Monday, coach Sean McVay saying the veteran quarterback was still being evaluated for a concussion.

Stafford, 34, started for the Rams in their 27-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday but left in the second half. He was sacked and evaluated for a concussion in the sideline medical tent.

It was the second time in three weeks that Stafford was evaluated for a concussion during or after a game. On Nov. 8, two days after a loss at Tampa Bay, Stafford was put in the NFL's concussion protocol. He sat out a Nov. 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals but was cleared from the protocol Friday.

The Rams will travel this weekend to play the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The next week, they will play the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium.

During a videoconference with reporters, McVay was asked for his level of optimism that Stafford would be available against the Chiefs.

“I think you want to be really careful with that,” McVay said, adding: “It’s going to be about the person first and foremost. ... You can’t be too careful with this stuff.”

If Stafford is diagnosed with a concussion, would the Rams consider putting him on injured reserve or shutting him down for the season?

“I’m not going to be reckless,” McVay said, “and we’re going to be really smart with Matthew.

“That’s kind of where I’ll leave that.”

Stafford, a 14th-year pro, has passed for 10 touchdowns against eight interceptions this season.

The defending Super Bowl-champion Rams are 3-7 and have lost four games in a row for the first time under McVay. They are on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention.

Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins finds running room against the Saints.
Bryce Perkins, above, replaced the injured Matthew Stafford against the Saints because John Wolford, the usual No. 2 Rams quarterback, was inactive with a neck injury. (Butch Dill / Associated Press)

John Wolford or Bryce Perkins could start in Stafford’s place Sunday against the Chiefs. Wolford started against the Cardinals but suffered a neck injury and was inactive against the Saints.

“He’s trending in the right direction,” McVay said, “but the neck thing is real.”

Perkins played against Arizona and replaced Stafford at New Orleans, leading two field-goal drives.

McVay said he and general manager Les Snead have discussed “potential contingency plans” if Stafford is unavailable, including “looking at other avenues” to acquire quarterback depth.

Last week, the Rams lost star wide receiver Cooper Kupp for at least four games when he was put on injured reserve following ankle surgery. Now Stafford could be potentially sidelined for multiple games or the rest of the season.

“It’s tough,” McVay said. “Those guys are really the foundational parts of how you kind of have it built. ... When those guys aren’t out there on the field, you’re never replacing two players like that.”

Now the Rams play a Chiefs team that improved to 8-2 on Sunday night with a victory over the Chargers. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes executed another masterful last-minute scoring drive, and the Chiefs' defense produced a game-clinching interception.

Rams defensive lineman Greg Gaines said that although he is not accustomed to losing — “definitely a little different experience,” he said — Rams players would continue to maintain a professional attitude and play hard.

And work toward turning around the season.

“A lot of football games come down to just a couple key plays,’’ he said, “and we just need those key plays to go in our favor.”

Wide receiver Tutu Atwell, who caught his first career touchdown pass against the Saints, said “nobody is walking around the locker room with their head down” in despair.

“We just gotta just come together and just pull through,” he said.

Etc.

Offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe suffered an ankle sprain against the Saints but could be available against the Chiefs, McVay said. ... Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson suffered a knee injury at New Orleans. “It doesn’t look good,” McVay said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.