THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay expects to have linebacker Alec Ogletree available against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday after he left a game against Arizona with a hyperextended left elbow.
Ogletree was pulled in the first half of a 32-16 win over the Cardinals. The injury could limit Ogletree, who had a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown before leaving.
“I think we all know the type of competitor that Alec is and he’s going to do everything in his power to be ready to go,” McVay said Monday. “He was in good spirits today, and I think he personally bumped up the treatment time for tomorrow morning. It was positive news.”
The Rams will need him in a game that could decide which team ends up with a first-round bye in the NFC.
After beating NFC South-leading New Orleans in their last home game, the Rams (9-3) can claim another crucial head-to-head tiebreaker with a win against the Eagles (10-2). Los Angeles clinched its first winning season since 2003 against Arizona, while the Eagles lost 24-10 at Seattle to start their two-game West Coast trip.
Bryce Hager, a third-year linebacker from Baylor, would be in line to start if Ogletree could not play. Hager had one tackle in relief of Ogletree, which came on the last play of the game. Cory Littleton, in his second season out of Washington, could also be in line for more playing time.
Not having Ogletree would be a serious blow against the Eagles’ balanced offense, which has impressed McVay as he has watched them during the season. McVay was even able to see the Eagles-Seahawks game live while on the team’s charter flight back to Los Angeles and was struck by quarterback Carson Wentz.
The same could be said of Rams running back Todd Gurley, who had 74 yards rushing and 84 yards receiving against the Cardinals. Gurley had two carries for 20 yards and a 23-yard catch late in the first half to set up a field goal and reclaim momentum after Arizona had cut Los Angeles’ lead to 16-13, and receptions by Gurley from Jared Goff represented three of the Rams’ six longest plays.
“You look at it, when we really needed a big play, he had a couple of huge screen plays,” McVay said. “When Todd’s having a good day usually that’s going to be good for our whole offense and for our team.”
McVay has featured Gurley’s ability to make defenders miss in the open field extensively in the passing game, with career-highs in catches (48), receiving yards (563), yards per catch (11.7) and touchdown receptions (3).
“I think one of the things I heard coach (Mike) Shanahan say when I worked with him in Washington: ‘Usually if you have to tell a runner how to run you probably have the wrong guy.’ I bet you when Todd was playing pee-wee football he just kind of knew how to work edges on people naturally,” McVay said after joking that he and running backs coach Skip Peete deserve all the credit for Gurley’s elusiveness.
Getting Gurley into open space isn’t the only thing McVay is preparing for this week. After Eagles fans staged a takeover of StubHub Center for Philadelphia’s 26-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, McVay will have contingencies in place if the Rams need to use a silent count to deal with crowd noise.
With playoff positioning potentially on the line, every detail counts.
“When you look at the stakes because of the way that we have played and the way they have played as these games get further on into the season they mean a little bit more because of the implications,” McVay said.
NOTES: Outside linebacker Connor Barwin (forearm) will likely miss his second straight game. … McCay said he would have an update of the availability of wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) on Wednesday. Woods has missed the last two games.