THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Robert Woods is ready to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams’ playoff push.
The veteran receiver plans to return from a three-game absence when the Rams (9-4) visit the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) on Sunday in a game likely to decide the eventual winner of the NFC West.
Woods has been sidelined by a shoulder injury since getting hurt in a loss to Minnesota on Nov. 19. The USC product was the Rams’ leading receiver at the time with 47 catches for 703 yards.
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”I feel like the movement and everything is there,” Woods said Wednesday. ”Everything is good and ready, so I feel like I’m trusting it. I’m very confident in it.”
The offense has scarcely missed a beat without him, racking up 93 points while going 2-1 during his absence. But Woods’ veteran savvy and strong connection with Jared Goff should be a boost heading into the biggest game of the season for the upstart Rams, who could all but clinch their first division title since 2003 with a win in Seattle.
”Certainly we have a lot of confidence in our receiving group,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. ”But getting Robert back gives us a boost, and we’re a better team when Robert is on the field.”
The Rams have an above-average corps of receivers in their first seasons with the club, including deep threat Sammy Watkins and rookie Cooper Kupp, who has moved past Woods for the team lead with 56 receptions for 783 yards. Running back Todd Gurley also has been turned into a threat out of the backfield with 51 catches for 602 yards in McVay’s versatile offense.
But Woods’ teammates and coaches speak reverently about the professional tone he sets for the Rams. His absence from two weeks of practice clearly was felt.
”He’s just such a good example every day,” Goff said. ”He sets a great example for the guys. In the game, he does so much stuff that you can’t really see – just his feel for the game and his understanding for leverages and coverages and everything. He sees the game the right way, and that will be nice to have back, for sure.”
The Rams didn’t practice Wednesday, sticking to a simple walk-through to stay fresh for what’s likely to be a taxing game in Seattle. Woods participated in some parts of practice last week, but didn’t rush back for last week’s loss to Philadelphia.
Woods had the two biggest games of his homecoming season right before getting injured, compiling 16 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns in back-to-back performances against Houston and Minnesota.
He has ample motivation to come back strong. Woods has never made the NFL playoffs after spending his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, and the Rams haven’t been in the postseason since 2004.
”I’m ready for Sunday,” Woods said with a smile. ”I’ve been waiting on this.”
Woods also has a history of success at CenturyLink Field: Last season, he had a career-best 10 catches for 162 yards in a monster performance for the Bills in Seattle.
”The environment helped,” Woods said. ”A loud environment. Fun game. … (Seahawks safety) Earl (Thomas) is really their heart. He’s controlling their whole secondary. Flying over, getting guys in place, making plays, making other people’s plays. But it’s just how he plays.”
NOTES: The Rams promoted defensive back Isaiah Johnson from the practice squad in the absence of starting cornerback Kayvon Webster, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Johnson has been mostly on the Rams’ practice squad for the last two seasons, but he appeared in three games last year, playing largely on special teams. … Los Angeles also re-signed CB Marcus Sayles to the practice squad, a week after cutting him.
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