IRVINE — The Rams didn’t expect Matthew Stafford to practice Tuesday, the day after he hurt his thumb by smacking it on a lineman’s helmet as he followed through on a pass during an 11-on-11 drill.
But that doesn’t mean they were surprised when Stafford appeared on the field at UC Irvine before the scheduled start of practice and began throwing 25-yard warmup passes to backup John Wolford.
The 33-year-old’s reputation preceded him when he came from the Lions to the Rams in a trade last winter, and it says this is what he does, playing through pain.
“He’s a tough quarterback, a tough guy,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “That’s the type of guy you want.”
With what Coach Sean McVay said was a contusion on his right thumb, Stafford wound up taking part in the entire 90-minute practice, leading the first-unit offense as the Rams practiced in full pads for the first time at this training camp.
His passes weren’t always crisp. But he connected with receivers on some long ones and threaded the needle on some intermediate ones. The only hint of injury was the small white bandage and beige wrap on Stafford’s right thumb.
“It was a good contusion that he had on his thumb, but he’s so tough that he got out here today and didn’t have any limitations,” McVay said. “He’s not going to say anything about it, but you know he’s pushing through it. I think that says as much about him as anything.”
Stafford didn’t make it sound heroic.
“It’s our first full day in pads, and I want to be out there, I want to be out there with these guys every opportunity I get, whether I’m 100% or not,” Stafford said.
The quarterback said he “didn’t really know what happened” after he hit the thumb on a helmet toward the end of Monday’s practice, sending him to the sidelines.
“The thumb kind of went numb,” Stafford said. “I was kind of unsure what was going on. Our training staff and doctors checked on it, made sure nothing was broken or fractured or torn.
“I felt good enough, so I came out and practiced.”
On the physical-toughness scale, what Stafford did Tuesday rates below Jared Goff’s display in the Rams’ second-to-last regular-season game of 2020, when Goff fractured and dislocated his thumb but popped it back into place himself and finished out a losing effort at Seattle.
On Monday, the Rams feared Stafford might have a fracture or a re-injury of the tendon that required surgery last season.
But Tuesday, X-rays and an examination by Rams doctor Neal ElAttrache showed nothing that serious.
McVay called it a “sigh of relief.”
“Earlier today, we were planning on him not practicing, and then he came out and he said, ‘No, I’m going to practice,’” McVay said. “He’s not going to complain about anything, which is what you love.”
Donald admitted he’d been worried.
“After practice (Monday), I talked to him and made sure he was good,” Donald said. “During walk-through (practice early Tuesday), I said, ‘Let me see you make it move.’ He was cool.”
Stafford said the thumb felt “pretty good” after practice Tuesday and would be monitored for the next day.
“Never fun to have something as vital as your throwing thumb not feel 100%,” Stafford said, “but at the same time I’m happy it wasn’t anything bad.”
Offensive line coach Kevin Carberry can join practice Wednesday, 10 days after he tested positive for COVID-19. Carberry is vaccinated and has been symptom-free. … Rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell, placed on the COVID-19 reserve list July 26, can begin practicing but McVay said he’ll be eased back into activity. “He’s been sitting around his hotel room for 10 days. Be interested in how much he weighs right now,” the coach said of the 5-foot-9 Atwell, who says he’s 155 pounds and wants to bulk up to 160-plus. … McVay said surgery went well for defensive back Robert Rochell (wrist) and defensive lineman Bobby Brown III (thumb) but didn’t specify how long either rookie will be out. … Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth had the day off. … Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis didn’t practice.
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