QB-challenged Rams, Packers aim to find winning stride

Field Level Media

November 05, 2023 at 2:57 am.

The Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers hoped to be in better places as they near the halfway point of the season, but both sit multiple games below .500 heading into their matchup on Sunday afternoon in Green Bay.

Making matters more difficult, both teams are facing uncertainty at quarterback, and for different reasons.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a sprained UCL in his right thumb in a 43-20 loss at the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the second loss in a row for Los Angeles (3-5) and third in its past four games.

Stafford, who did not practice all week, is listed as questionable. However, multiple media outlets reported Saturday night that Stafford is unlikely to play.

Earlier in the week, the Rams signed quarterback Dresser Winn to the practice squad as insurance and the team elevated him to the active roster Saturday. Brett Rypien will start on Sunday if Stafford is unable to play.

Winn was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent on May 1 and waived on Aug. 29. He’s been with the Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League since signing with them on Sept. 30.

Los Angeles also removed running back Darrell Henderson from the practice squad and added him to the active roster on Wednesday.

On Friday’s injury report, the Rams ruled out linebacker Ernest Jones (knee) and tight end Hunter Long (hamstring). Standout wide receiver Puka Nacua (knee) joined Stafford and three others as questionable.

Green Bay (2-5) doesn’t have an injury problem at quarterback, but Jordan Love has been less than effective through the first seven games.

The Packers have lost four in a row and five of six.

Love has the 25th-best quarterback rating (78.2) in the NFL among those who’ve played at least seven games, and his completion percentage (57.7) ranks 26th. He has 11 touchdown passes but his eight interceptions are tied for second-most in the NFL.

Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur isn’t putting all the blame on Love for his poor numbers, however.

“Everybody’s got to play better around him,” LaFleur said.

From dropped passes to missed blocking assignments, LaFleur said it seems a mistake is made on every offensive play.

“Right now, we’re not at a point where we’re good enough to overcome some of these mistakes,” he said.

The Packers had a five-game losing streak last season before regrouping to win five of seven. A season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions prevented Green Bay from making the playoffs and ended quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 18-year stay with the team.

LaFleur said he can’t afford to stick with the status quo when it comes to preparing for games.

“We’re going to shake some things up in terms of our process, our weekly rhythm,” LaFleur said.

The Packers traded defensive back Rasul Douglas on Tuesday to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2024 third-round pick.

Douglas had 10 interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, in 36 games with Green Bay.

“We didn’t go into this looking to deal anybody,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters on Wednesday. “Quite frankly, we were maybe hoping to add somebody if we could. That didn’t transpire.”

Packers running back Aaron Jones practiced in a red non-contact jersey Wednesday, though LaFleur said after practice that there were no concerns about Jones’ ability to suit up against the Rams. Jones carried no injury designation on Friday’s status report; linebacker Quay Walker (groin) and safety Rudy Ford (calf) are questionable.

Jones is off to a slow start this season. He has yet to rush for more than 45 yards in any of his four games after surpassing that mark in nine of 17 games last season.