Cashing in: Rams QB Wolford to make high-profile NFL debut



Though John Wolford all the time believed he could possibly be an NFL quarterback, he hadn’t completed a lot in his first three seasons at Wake Forest to influence anyone else.

So he labored at an funding agency in the course of the summer season and lined up a job in finance after he graduated.

Wolford then had an excellent senior season for the Demon Deacons, however did not get drafted. He was three days away from beginning his banking profession when the New York Jets provided an audition.


He put his Wall Road plans on maintain and began down one other profession path that has led him into the Rams’ backfield this Sunday, when he’ll attempt to lead Los Angeles (9-6) to the playoffs in his NFL debut.

“You possibly can solely go play soccer as soon as,” Wolford mentioned Wednesday. “I can return and work a desk job afterward in life. I advised myself, ‘I’ll give it a 12 months. I’ll give it every thing I’ve bought.’ And it is all labored out.”

Wolford is clearly good with numbers and danger evaluation, and he truly sees a robust likelihood of a 6-foot-1 quarterback succeeding below these daunting circumstances. That is as a result of he is aware of the complete scope of his funding in himself, and he is decided to make it repay.

“It has been a enjoyable journey getting up to now,” Wolford mentioned. “It is numerous exhausting work, and I am assured within the time I’ve spent that has gotten me right here. I am assured in my capabilities as a participant. I do know I can spin it. I understand how to make the throws, after which mentally it is about making the best choices.”

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Wolford has been on the Rams’ roster for the final 31 video games, however he’ll take his first NFL snaps at SoFi Stadium on Sunday in opposition to the Arizona Cardinals (8-7). Los Angeles (9-6) wants a win or a loss by Chicago to achieve the postseason, however the Rams must do it with out Jared Goff.

Los Angeles’ beginning quarterback for the previous 4 1/2 seasons had thumb surgical procedure Monday, and he will not play for at the least one other week. Meaning the Rams should depend on Wolford in opposition to the Cardinals, who want a win to earn their very own playoff spot.

Wolford landed with the Rams after that quick stint with the Jets was adopted by a season within the defunct Alliance of American Soccer. He caught the eye of the Rams and Sean McVay, who signed him final season as their third-stringer behind Goff and Blake Bortles.

Though he most likely would have gone two full seasons with out a snap if Goff hadn’t bought damage final week in Seattle, Wolford does not remorse his resolution to postpone finance. He stays busy getting ready because the Rams’ starter every week whereas operating their scout crew with a precision and a focus to element that impresses his coaches.

“I feel that it’s extremely troublesome within the NFL to earn the respect of your teammates while you’ve by no means gone in a recreation,” mentioned Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, one other former school quarterback. “However John Wolford has the complete respect of our whole crew due to how he performs on the follow discipline, within the conferences, within the weight room. That is a uncommon factor. We’re all excited for his alternative this weekend.”

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McVay compares Wolford’s ability set to that of Doug Flutie, one other undersized quarterback who may run. Wolford’s mobility is an improve over Goff, whose inconsistency down the stretch has performed a big position within the Rams’ two-game dropping streak and potential slide out of the playoff image.

Wolford faces a unprecedented process to step in in opposition to the gifted Arizona protection, however McVay has been assured in Wolford’s means to thrive in an actual recreation for 2 years.

“He is as disciplined a man as I have been round when it comes to having that rhythm, that course of, that routine,” McVay mentioned. “I am assured in John, however I am additionally assured within the different 10 gamers round him. We have got to do it collectively, however man, what an amazing alternative.”

Though he is an NFL newcomer, Wolford has had spectacular soccer moments: He as soon as outdueled future NFL MVP Lamar Jackson when Wake performed Louisville, and he excelled in that season with the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots.

Sunday’s recreation is exponentially greater than all of that, in response to Wolford. He believes he’ll be prepared for the subsequent step up.

“I am simply going to place my head down and work to the most effective of my means,” Wolford mentioned. “No matter occurs, I will be capable of sleep at night time. I am simply trying ahead to the chance.”

NOTES: Main WR Cooper Kupp is unlikely to play after happening the COVID-19 reserve listing, McVay mentioned. … LT Andrew Whitworth has been cleared to return to follow. He will not play this week, however could possibly be prepared for the postseason. The 39-year-old has missed six video games with a knee damage. … Los Angeles additionally activated LB Micah Kiser from injured reserve, however he will not play this week, McVay mentioned. … RB Malcolm Brown is restricted by a shoulder damage. If the veteran cannot play and rookie Cam Akers does not return from his excessive ankle sprain, the Rams would play Sunday with none operating backs who’ve a carry this season. McVay mentioned he could be assured giving carries to rookie Xavier Jones, who has performed solely on particular groups. … Akers is “making nice progress” after lacking only one recreation, McVay mentioned. “I would not guess in opposition to this child.”

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