Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 |
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Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle watches during an NFL football training camp in Irvine, Calif., on July 30, 2019. Weddle is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams for the playoffs. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)
LOS ANGELES — Safety Eric Weddle is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams for the playoffs.
Weddle turned 37 last week, and he hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2019 season, but the Rams signed him to their practice squad Wednesday to address their glaring need at safety.
Leading tackler Jordan Fuller is out for the playoffs with a right ankle injury, and fellow starting safety Taylor Rapp is in the concussion protocol.
Weddle retired in February 2020 after one season with the Rams in which he made 108 tackles and called the defense’s signals. The Los Angeles-area native spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens before his year with the Rams on Wade Phillips’ defense.
The NFC West champion Rams (12-5) return to practice Thursday ahead of their visit from the Arizona Cardinals (11-6) on Monday night. The Rams were off Wednesday, but Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury noted Weddle’s surprising comeback.
“He must be living a lot healthier lifestyle than I was after I retired,” Kingsbury said. “He was a fantastic player a couple of years ago. All-Pro, Pro Bowl, one of the smartest defensive players that anybody ever speaks about. If anybody can do it, there’s no doubt he can.”
The Rams missed the playoffs in Weddle’s only season with the team. The two-time All-Pro selection and six-time Pro Bowler with 29 career interceptions has appeared in just one playoff game since 2013, but the Utah product is seizing the chance to fill in for a defense that desperately needs help.
Fuller, the Rams’ leading tackler and defensive signal caller, is out for the season after injuring his ankle late in the Rams’ overtime loss to San Francisco last Sunday, costing them the second seed in the NFC. Rapp also got hurt late in the game, and he went into the concussion protocol Monday.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is having an outstanding season, but every Los Angeles defensive back except him and Fuller has had a rough year. Rapp, Darious Williams, Dont’e Deayon, Nick Scott and David Long have all struggled at various points in coverage and as tacklers. Los Angeles finished 17th in the NFL in total yards allowed this season after being the league’s stingiest defense in 2020.
The Rams’ secondary and linebackers group are clear weaknesses to be exploited by capable offenses. Kyler Murray has already thrown for 651 yards against the LA defense this season for the Cardinals, who racked up 912 yards while splitting their two meetings with the Rams this season.
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