The Rams will head into the regular season with most of their starters having played zero snaps in the preseason. Quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan are among the many key players who haven’t even stepped on the field during the preseason.
McVay said the reason is simple: His priority is keeping the starters healthy, and it’s simply not worth the injury risk to play them in the preseason.
“It’s an imperfect deal,” McVay said. “But this is the decision that we felt like we wanted to make.”
There’s something of a domino effect with holding players out in the preseason: Whitworth and Sullivan are aging veterans, which means McVay doesn’t want to wear them out in meaningless games. But they’re also the top two players on the offensive line, which means McVay doesn’t want Goff and Gurley getting drilled if backup offensive linemen miss an assignment. And what would be the point of putting Cooks out there and risking an injury to him when he wouldn’t be getting on the same page with Goff anyway?
McVay’s way of thinking is smart: Yes, there’s some value in using live game action to prepare for the season. But there’s even more value in having your key players healthy. It won’t be surprising if next preseason, more coaches follow McVay’s lead — and NFL preseason games are even worse.