Rams-Giants: 4 bold predictions for a Sunday morning beatdown

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Turf Show Times 14 October, 2021 - 10:06am

Did Daniel Jones get a concussion?

Daniel Jones, who was the recipient of an unflagged helmet-to-helmet hit while trying to score on a naked keeper around the end in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, is in the league's concussion protocol. NewsdayDaniel Jones in NFL's concussion protocol

Rookie Robert Rochell Thrust Into Prominent Role in LA Rams' Secondary

NBC Southern California 14 October, 2021 - 02:40pm

Just one week ago, Robert Rochell was a rookie cornerback hoping to contribute on special teams while he waited for the opportunity to make plays for the Los Angeles Rams' defense.

When the Rams (4-1) visit the New York Giants on Sunday, there's a good chance the fourth-round pick from Central Arkansas will spend his fifth career NFL game as a starting defensive back for Los Angeles.

“I never thought I would be in this situation this early in my career,” Rochell said. “But rookie is just a title.”

Rochell is attempting to seize an opportunity for which he might not really be ready. David Long's inconsistent play thrust Rochell into a prominent role for the Rams last Thursday in Seattle, where starting cornerback Darious Williams incurred an ankle injury that makes it fairly certain Rochell will be playing a whole lot more for at least the next three weeks as Los Angeles' No. 2 cornerback.

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Rochell had little time to prepare for his sharply increased role on defense in Seattle during a short week, and he had plenty of ups and downs against the Seahawks, who obviously wanted to text his moxie. Rochell realizes that's the nature of being an inexperienced NFL defensive back, and he refused to back down.

“When I got the notification of what was going to happen, I had to right then put my big-boy shoes on,” he said. “I had to be ready. I had to stand up for this team and all the other guys who are going out there day in and day out with me. We all represent each other, so I just tried to go out there with a big heart and a clear mind.”

Rochell committed a 47-yard pass interference penalty that led to the Seahawks' first points when he tackled Tyler Lockett instead of letting him catch a long pass. Rochell later gave up a TD pass to DK Metcalf on which he admitted making a technique mistake.

But Rochell also settled down in his role, and he broke up a pass from Geno Smith to Lockett in the end zone with 3:09 to play, stalling the Seahawks' failed comeback in the Rams' 26-17 victory.

“As a DB, you’re no better than your last play," Rochell said. “So the last play, I had to delete it and I had to get ready for the next one, because my next one could be the best play, you know? It only takes one.”

Rochell got the chance to play more because Long struggled as the Rams' nickel back against Arizona in Week 4 during the Rams' only loss. Williams then sprained his ankle last week in Seattle, and the Rams placed him on injured reserve Tuesday.

Rochell already overcame several setbacks this season: He had surgery on his left wrist in July, and he's still wearing a cast that affects his ball skills. He then missed a key block on special teams during Week 2 in Indianapolis, which apparently contributed to the fact he didn't play at all in Week 3.

Los Angeles seems comfortable trusting Rochell to play most of the snaps vacated by Williams, who is likely to be out for only three weeks, coach Sean McVay said. Williams, a waiver wire pickup who played his way into a starting role with LA, made the clinching defensive play with a diving interception in the Rams’ win over the Giants last season.

“I like the way Rochell handled himself,” McVay said. “He’s a mentally tough kid. He’s unfazed. ... Certainly wasn’t perfect, but his competitiveness, his toughness, all of those things that make you a football player, I thought that was demonstrated.”

Instead of signing a veteran free-agent defensive back or swinging one of the midseason trades for which GM Les Snead is justly known, the Rams appear to be ready to face the Giants with Rochell and Long alongside 2020 All-Pro Jalen Ramsey.

“It might not be one guy” replacing Williams, McVay said. “It might be kind of a committee approach. Those things are predicated on, ‘Are you playing two corners? Are you playing three corners? Do you get into some of your subgroupings where it might even be more than that?’ So we’re going to explore all measures.”

NOTES: DT Aaron Donald missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury. The Rams said their three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year banged knees with an opponent in Seattle and was still sore, so the Rams decided to rest their defensive cornerstone. He intends to play Sunday. ... K Matt Gay was limited in practice by soreness in his ankle. He is also expected to play Sunday.

Rams-Giants preview: LA offensive line is smothering pass rushers

Turf Show Times 14 October, 2021 - 02:40pm

The offensive line looks to continue their elite level of pass protection

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Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is continuing to play at an elite level so far during the 2021 season. According to Pro Football Focus, Whitworth is the eleventh ranked tackle in the league and is coming off of his highest rated pass protection grade of the season.

The Giants won Super Bowls with the likes of Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul but they haven’t had a true edge threat since losing the tandem of Pierre-Paul and and Olivier Vernon several years ago. As a result, New York has been one of the worst teams in the league in terms of rushing the passer this season, though Ojulari, the 50th overall pick, has been a bright spot . Through five games they have a total of just eight sacks, despite blitzing on almost 30 percent of passing plays. Ojulari is tied for the team lead with defensive tackle Austin Johnson at three sacks each.

Johnson has only accumulated 6.5 career sacks, but strangely has three this season after only having 3.5 in his first five campaigns. If it’s any comfort, he only gets a sack in odd number weeks this season.

It would be understandable if the sack totals were low because the defensive pressure is getting close enough to the quarterbacks to force them into throwing interceptions. The pressure has been nearly nonexistent, as “Big Blue” has only been able to hurry the quarterback 16.8 percent of quarterback drop backs, according to Pro Football Reference.

While that time to throw statistic ranks near the middle of the pack, it does not account for time created by a quarterback scrambling and extending the passing play. For example, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the league in time to throw with 3.11 seconds (with a minimum of 150 pass attempts), partly due to his ability to elude defenders in the pocket and buy extra time for his receivers to get open.

L.A. has only allowed four sacks this season. The offensive line has only been responsible for three of those, as tight end Tyler Higbee allowed the only sack in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks. That means the Rams offensive line has actually gone two consecutive games without allowing a sack. Do you think L.A. can make it three in a row?

Saquon Barkley frustrated to miss time with another injury: 'It doesn’t make sense why it’s happening'

NFL.com 14 October, 2021 - 02:02pm

Saquon Barkley entered the 2021 season eager to rewrite the story of his injury marred career. Six weeks into his fourth campaign, he's struggling, physically and emotionally, with another ailment.

Barkley is expected to miss the New York Giants' Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Rams after spraining his ankle last Sunday. It will be his 18th missed game due to injury over the past three seasons. That's one number on Barkley's stat line that the running back hates to see increase.

"I’ll be honest, it’s frustrating. It doesn't make sense why it's happening," Barkley told reporters on missing games with an injury for a third straight season, per SNY. "But I can't keep that mindset. You can't get anywhere with it. Everything happens for a reason."

The former No. 2 overall pick missed three weeks in 2019 with an ankle sprain and suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season. The league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, Barkley has not played a full slate of games since that star-making season.

Memories of his past injuries continue to haunt Barkley and were with him during New York's Week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when the RB went down with his low-ankle sprain.

"I felt like I just started getting my stride back," Barkley said, adding, "I didn't want to get on the cart because the last time I was on the cart, I was out for the season," referring to his torn ACL.

Sidelined again for injury reasons, Barkley said he's choosing to look at his most recent physical ailment as a "blessing in disguise."

Saquon is not alone in the New York training room this week. Receiver Kenny Golladay has not practiced with a knee injury and is not expected to play against the Rams. Starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who left Sunday's game as well with a concussion, returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis and is on track to play.

The Giants felt like they dodged a bullet when X-rays of Barkley's ankle revealed no significant damage, and the running back's expected to return by New York's Week 7 game against the Carolina Panthers, missing just one week of action.

Barkley, however, is not putting a timetable on his return from his latest setback.

"I don't plan to put any expectations on the day, the game, the comeback," Barkley said. "I'm just going to listen to my body, listen to the trainers, take it day by day."

Giants-Rams injury news: Daniel Jones takes big step forward

Big Blue View 13 October, 2021 - 02:19pm

Jones remains in concussion protocol; Giants get good news on some other injured players

Jones took first-team reps during the open portion of Thursday’s practice, a positive sign in his recovery.

Head coach Joe Judge sounded optimistic he would have his starting quarterback in the lineup on Sunday.

“I’d say at this point, everything looks positive,” Judge said.

Daniel Jones was the first QB in every drill. He’ll be listed as limited because he’s in the non-contact part of the concussion protocol but QBs are always non-contact. Looks like the only way he won’t play on Sunday is if he has a setback: pic.twitter.com/O50QXphQbP

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett also seemed optimistic in regards to Jones’ availability.

“We’ll see. We’ll see,” Garrett said. “He seems like he’s doing fine, and he seems like himself, so we’ll just take it day by day.”

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones put his pads on, went out to practice on Wednesday and tossed the football around a bit before the Giants officially began practice, perhaps a hopeful sign as Jones works his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Giants head coach Joe Judge was in the middle of telling assembled media that Jones was “with the trainers” and “can just observe today” when it was pointed out to him that the quarterback, in the concussion protocol after Sunday’s helmet-to-helmet hit with Jabril Cox of the Dallas Cowboys, was on the field in full uniform tossing the ball around. Here was his reaction:

Joe Judge seemed surprised when he was told Daniel Jones had pads on for practice: pic.twitter.com/pECkDozm8w

Here is Jones tossing the ball around before practice.

Jones reportedly also did some running and took snaps on a side field while technically just “observing” practice.

Beyond Jones, the 1-4 Giants have a lengthy injury list heading into Sunday’s clash at MetLife Stadium with the Los Angeles Rams.

Star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay won’t play.

Barkley was carted to the locker room Sunday with an ugly left ankle injury that caused a massive amount of swelling. Dr. David Chao, a former NFL team physician known as the Pro Football Doc, believes Barkley could miss as many as three games.

Golladay, signed to be the Giants’ No. 1 receiver, could reportedly miss two games.

Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, who have each missed two games with hamstring injuries, practiced on Wednesday. Safety Jabrill Peppers, who missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, also practiced.

“I feel great, I feel great. Ready to go,” he said.

Starting left tackle Andrew Thomas (foot) did not practice. Neither did starting left guard Matt Skura (knee).

Second-year linebacker Cam Brown has been designated to return from IR. Brown, on injured reserve since Sept. 25 with a hamstring injury, practiced on Wednesday. Brown has not played since he participated in 11 special teams plays in the season opener vs. Denver.

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