Nov 6, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) celebrates after a catch and run against the Tennessee Titans during overtime of the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) returning vs. Rams

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has exited concussion protocol and will return from a one-game absence on Sunday when the Chiefs host the Los Angeles Rams.

Smith-Schuster was a full participant in practice all week and was not given a game designation on the Chiefs’ injury report Friday.

The 26-year-old sustained the concussion during the Chiefs’ Week 10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He missed last week’s 30-27 primetime win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

In his first season with the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster is second on the team in receptions (46) and receiving yards (615) while catching two touchdowns. He spent his first five NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fellow Chiefs receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) was ruled out for the Rams game. Toney, a midseason acquisition from the New York Giants, suffered the injury against the Chargers last week. Guard Joe Thuney (ankle), safety Juan Thornhill (calf) and cornerback Chris Lammons (concussion) were listed as questionable.

The Rams will be without center Brian Allen (thumb), linebacker Travin Howard (hip) and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (knee). Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford (concussion, neck) was ruled out Wednesday.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle), tight end Tyler Higbee (knee), center Matt Skura (knee) and tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle) are questionable.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is grabbed by New Orleans Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss (55) in the second quarter at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Beat-up Rams prepare for AFC-best Chiefs without top QB

The Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 12 home game against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams likely made fans’ mouths water when the NFL released its schedule months ago.

Now, those same mouths may be offering a collective yawn when pondering Sunday afternoon’s game in Kansas City.

While Patrick Mahomes has the Chiefs (8-2) atop the AFC standings, the Rams (3-7) have been an unmitigated disaster. Oddsmakers weren’t shy about showing the difference between the teams considering Kansas City is a whopping 14.5-point favorite at Caesars Sportsbook.

“They’ve had changes to the team and injuries, those things happen — but it’s not something they planned on happening,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of the Rams.

“At the same time, 99 (Aaron Donald), 54 (Leonard Floyd) and 5 (Jalen Ramsey) — these guys haven’t changed. … You have to get yourself ready.”

Kansas City has been ready from the get-go this season. The team leads the NFL in average points per game (30.0) and total offense (429.3 yards), while Mahomes is atop the league in passing yards (3,265) and passing touchdowns (28).

And who could forget the teams’ electric matchup nearly four years ago? Mahomes passed for a career-high 478 yards and six touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 54-51 loss to the Rams.

Last Sunday, Mahomes connected on three touchdown passes to tight end Travis Kelce to lead Kansas City to a 30-27 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Kelce had six receptions for 115 yards en route to be named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Rookie Isiah Pacheco, who rolled up a season-best 107 yards last Sunday, could see even more playing time with fellow running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Ronald Jones could be in line to make his season debut with the Chiefs and join Jerick McKinnon in backing up Pacheco.

Kansas City may welcome back wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since landing in the concussion protocol two weeks ago.

“Hopefully everything goes well with the protocol and stuff like that, (and) he’s ready to go,” Mahomes said of Smith-Schuster, who leads the team’s wide receivers in both catches (46) and receiving yards (615). “To have that energy on the sideline — he’s a great player and a great teammate, and you always want to have those guys back in the huddle.”

While the Chiefs have won four in a row, the reeling Rams have lost four straight games to plummet to the bottom of the NFC West. To boot, Los Angeles ranks fourth-worst in NFL in average points per game (16.8) and third-worst in total offense (288.0 yards).

The Rams are mired in a bevy of bad news, ranging from Super Bowl LVI MVP Cooper Kupp expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with a high ankle sprain to defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson sustaining a season-ending meniscus injury.

“We’re all professionals here,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. “This is our job. These are some challenging times, but you can’t jump off the roller coaster. You gotta be able to stay on track.”

Quarterback Bryce Perkins relieved Matthew Stafford (neck) in the Rams’ 27-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. Stafford, who also is in concussion protocol, has been ruled out against the Chiefs.

“Bryce is gonna get the majority of the work (in practice on Wednesday), and we’ll see how John (Wolford, neck) progresses throughout the week,” McVay said.

The Rams rushed for a season-high 148 yards versus the Saints, with Cam Akers grinding out 61 of those. He is in line for more playing time after the Rams waived leading rusher Darrell Henderson Jr. on Tuesday.

In addition to Stafford and Robinson, Los Angeles tight end Tyler Higbee (knee), center Brian Allen (thumb) and tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle), center Matt Skura (knee) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) were limited participants.

As for Kansas City, wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and guard Joe Thuney (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Safety Juan Thornhill was limited during Wednesday’s session.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23) in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rams part ways with leading rusher Darrell Henderson Jr.

The Los Angeles Rams waived fourth-year running back Darrell Henderson Jr. on Tuesday.

Henderson was the Rams’ leading rusher with a modest 283 yards. Los Angeles ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing offense at 76.1 yards per game.

Henderson received four snaps in Sunday’s 27-20 road loss to the New Orleans Saints. He rushed twice for 9 yards.

Cam Akers rushed 14 times for 61 yards and Kyren Williams received seven carries for 36 yards.

Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday that Henderson had a knee issue during pregame drills.

“He felt a little something in his knee and that was kind of what led to Cam and Kyren getting the majority of the work,” McVay said of Henderson. “But he said he felt fine (Monday).”

Henderson, 25, carried the ball 70 times in 10 appearances (seven starts) this season and scored three touchdowns. He also had 17 receptions for 102 yards.

Henderson rushed for 1,742 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 474 yards and four scores in 50 games (28 starts) for Los Angeles.

The Rams also waived linebacker Justin Hollins form the active roster and tight end Kendall Blanton from the practice squad.

The defending Super Bowl-champion Rams are just 3-7 heading into Sunday’s road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Los Angeles has dropped four straight games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton throws three TD passes as Saints defeat Rams

Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes as the host New Orleans Saints defeated the Los Angeles Rams 27-20 on Sunday afternoon.

Dalton completed 21 of 25 passes for 260 yards as the Saints (4-7) prevailed in a battle of injury-plagued teams.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who missed the Rams’ loss to Arizona last week because of a concussion, left this game in the third quarter to be evaluated for a possible concussion and did not return.

Stafford, who completed 11 of 18 for 159 yards with two touchdowns, was replaced by Bryce Perkins, who completed 5 of 10 pass attempts for 64 yards and rushed five times for 39 yards.

Los Angeles (3-7) lost for the sixth time in seven games.

On the first possession of the third quarter, Dalton threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry to give New Orleans a 17-14 lead.

On the Saints next possession, Dalton threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chris Olave for a 24-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. Olave finished with game highs of five catches and 102 receiving yards.

Perkins’ first drive produced a 33-yard field goal by Matt Gay that trimmed the deficit to 24-17.

Wil Lutz’s 25-yard field goal increased New Orleans’ lead to 27-17 and Gay kicked a 58-yarder with six seconds left.

The Saints drove to the Rams 13 midway through the first quarter, and after consecutive sacks, Lutz kicked a 46-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

On the first play after the kickoff, Stafford threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to TuTu Atwell to give the Rams a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Dalton threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson to give New Orleans a 10-7 lead.

On the ensuing possession Los Angeles reached Saints territory but on fourth-and-1, Kyren Williams was stopped for a 1-yard loss at the 36.

The Rams got the ball back on a punt and drove 87 yards, and Stafford threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson II to take a 14-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is grabbed by New Orleans Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss (55) in the second quarter at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Rams QB Matthew Stafford leaves game vs. Saints in concussion protocol

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford — cleared Saturday from the concussion protocol — left in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints for a concussion evaluation.

Stafford came out of the game at the 9:38 mark of the quarter after being sacked for a 9-yard loss. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns before being replaced by Bryce Perkins.

Stafford was placed in NFL concussion protocol after the team’s loss to Tampa Bay in Week 9.

John Wolford started in place of Stafford against the Arizona Cardinals last week, throwing for 212 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Entering the game, Stafford had thrown for 1,928 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions this season. He had been sacked 28 times, third most in the NFL, as the team has been forced to alter the look of the offensive line.

Los Angeles started nine different combinations on the offensive line in its first nine games.

The Saints won 27-20.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Hobbled Rams, Saints enter survival mode

The Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl last season.

The New Orleans Saints had a winning record in each of the last five seasons.

Understandably high expectations ushered the franchises into the 2022 season.

But as they prepare to meet Sunday in New Orleans, both the Rams (3-6) and the Saints (3-7) have been hampered significantly by injuries and desperately need a win if they hope to turn their seasons in a positive direction.

“You’ve got to be more process-oriented than ever before,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. “It’s easy to say that when things are going well, and now you really get forced to kind of put it to the test.”

Things got worse for the Rams this week when star wide receiver Cooper Kupp underwent ankle surgery that will sideline him indefinitely.

“We have to figure out how to accentuate the skill sets of the guys that will be playing,” McVay said.

The Rams also lost two starting offensive linemen because of health issues. Tackle Alaric Jackson will miss the rest of the season because of blood clots and guard Chandler Brewer will miss four to six weeks because of a knee injury.

Los Angeles did receive some good news Wednesday when quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had been in concussion protocol, practiced fully.

New Orleans is without former All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas due to foot surgery and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and starting linebacker Pete Werner remained sidelined.

“I told the team, ‘Man, there’s got to be a sense of urgency in everything we do,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ve got to get some things corrected, and there has to be a sense of urgency about doing that. And what we’ve done to this point has not been good enough.

“And so we keep doing the same things and expect it to be different, that’s the definition of insanity. So we’ve got to change the way we prepare, we’ve got to change the way we get ready to play a game. That’s coaches, players, that’s all of us because it hasn’t been up to the standard that we have here.”

After poor offensive performances in consecutive losses to Baltimore (27-13) and at Pittsburgh last Sunday (20-10) Allen pondered benching quarterback Andy Dalton and returning to Jameis Winston, who was sidelined after three games because of a back injury but has been cleared to play.

“We’re going to go with Andy,” Allen said after practice Wednesday. “We discussed it as a staff. I got an opportunity to talk to both quarterbacks, and I feel like right now, Andy is the direction that we want to go.”

Dalton will try to get the offense back on track while playing without a majority of his starting offensive linemen.

Left tackle James Hurst, who was sidelined by a concussion during last week’s game, didn’t practice Wednesday, nor did left guard Andrus Peat, who missed last week’s game because of a triceps injury.

Center Josh Andrews, who moved into the starting lineup when Erik McCoy went on injured reserve last week, missed practice because of illness, as did right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) watches the game against the Arizona Cardinals from the sidelines at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rams QB Matthew Stafford returns to practice

Matthew Stafford is back.

The Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback returned to practice as a full participant Wednesday after missing last week’s game with a concussion. He’s expected to start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

His return couldn’t come at a more crucial time. The Rams (3-6) are in last place in the NFC West and teetering on the brink of falling out of the playoff race before December. The Rams have lost three straight games, plus top wide receiver Cooper Kupp for at least four games with an ankle injury.

Kupp was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, needing stabilizing surgery on the high-ankle sprain he suffered in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Stafford was placed in NFL concussion protocol after the team’s loss to Tampa Bay in Week 9.

John Wolford started in place of Stafford against the Cardinals, throwing for 212 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Stafford has thrown for 1,928 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions this season. He has been sacked 28 times, third most in the NFL, as the team has been forced to alter the look of the offensive line.

The Rams visit New Orleans (3-7) this Sunday when again the makeup of the front five protecting Stafford is in question. Los Angeles has started nine different combinations on the offensive line in nine games.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick (94) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos LB Aaron Patrick (ACL) files negligence suit over injury

Denver Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick is suing the NFL, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams and ESPN for negligence over a season-ending torn ACL he sustained during a game against the Chargers in Inglewood, Calif.

Patrick was defending against a punt return Oct. 17 at SoFi Stadium and went out of bounds. The lawsuit alleges that Patrick’s foot rolled on a mat that was covering television cords and cables used with the league’s replay monitor. He was trying to avoid slamming into an NFL employee involved with the monitor — whom he did collide with — just before his legs made contact with the mat.

Patrick said his knee bent awkwardly after his foot made contact with the mat.

The suit, filed in California by attorney William Berman, says “the defendants were negligent in their operations of SOFI STADIUM in allowing a dangerous condition to exist by having three mats placed near the sideline to cover cords/cables that led to the feed for the instant NFL’s replay monitor.”

Berman said that safety at SoFi Stadium wasn’t a priority of the NFL.

“Player safety should be the foremost of importance to the NFL and its owners,” Berman said. “The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar sports enterprise and business, and it needs to do everything possible to protect its players from non-contact game injuries.

“As for Patrick’s injuries, Sofi Stadium was built at a $5,000,000,000 expense; the stadium should have the state-of-the-art equipment to protect for player safety, and not use the type of $100 mats that you would expect to see in a restaurant kitchen.”

Patrick, 25, had a one-year, $660,000 contract for this season and reportedly lost the chance to hit bonus clauses in the deal. He played all but two snaps on special teams in five games this season and made three stops.

Overall, Patrick has 11 tackles in 17 games with Denver over the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Cooper Kupp to have ankle surgery, placed on IR

Los Angeles Rams star receiver Cooper Kupp will have surgery on his right ankle Wednesday.

Coach Sean McVay confirmed Tuesday that Kupp has a high-ankle sprain and will undergo a procedure known as “tightrope” surgery.

The team planned to place Kupp on injured reserve, meaning he will miss a minimum of four games.

McVay did not rule Kupp out for the season.

The Rams (3-6) have lost three straight and five of their last six. The defending champions are in last place in the NFC West.

Kupp, 29, has 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games this season.

He led the NFL in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and TD receptions (16) in 2021, earning Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl LVI MVP honors.

He departed Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals early in the fourth quarter.

Kupp jumped in the air near the sideline in an attempt to grab an off-target pass from backup quarterback John Wolford and came to the ground, where Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson rolled over his leg.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs the ball against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton (33) during the first quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Rams WR Cooper Kupp avoids major ankle injury

Los Angeles Rams All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp avoided a major ankle injury but will miss some time, NFL Network and The Athletic reported Monday.

Kupp will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine severity and a timeline, per the reports.

Kupp, 29, departed Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals early in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. The team initially feared he suffered a fractured ankle.

“It didn’t look good, it didn’t sound good,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the loss to the Cardinals.

Kupp went in the air near the sideline in an attempt to grab an off-target pass from quarterback John Wolford and came to the ground, where Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson rolled over his leg. Kupp rolled out of bounds and was tended to by the team’s medical staff on the bench.

Kupp, the MVP of last season’s Super Bowl, was barely able to put weight on his right leg and was taken to the locker room.

During a rough season for the 3-6 Rams, Kupp had been a bright spot. He had three receptions Sunday, but they went for a combined minus-1 yard as Wolford struggled as a replacement for Matthew Stafford (concussion).

Kupp has 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns this season. In six seasons, all with the Rams, the former third-round draft pick out of Eastern Washington has 508 receptions for 6,329 yards and 46 TDs.

In a dominating 2021 season, Kupp led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and TDs (16). He also led in yards per game at 114.5.

–Field Level Media