Rams could hold out starters against 49ers

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay might hold out some starters for Sunday's regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers.

McVay's decision centres around left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has been dealing with a knee injury. But right tackle Rob Havenstein had a minor MCL injury earlier this month and starting center John Sullivan has missed practices this month with an illness.

If McVay holds the offensive line starters out of Sunday's game, quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley might not play, either.

"That's something that we definitely discussed," McVay said Tuesday. "The thing that is unique about it though, different than the preseason - you still have 53 guys on your active roster - how do you get to those 46? Now, fortunately for us we are fairly healthy, but how we determine as far as getting to that 46 and then if you do go with a Whitworth and a Sullivan, then how does that affect Jared or Todd? Those things are all definitely connected and those will be things that we're going to continue to discuss as the week progresses."

Roger Saffold also strained an oblique muscle in last Sunday's 27-23 win over the Titans, but McVay said the left guard "checked out OK". On the other side of the ball, the Rams are dealing with injuries to linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Mark Barron. Linebacker Matt Longacre, who did not play against the Titans, will be placed on injured reserve with a back injury. 

The Rams (11-4) will likely be the number three seed in the NFC with a win over the 49ers (5-10), who have won four straight since Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback. Los Angeles clinched the NFC West on Christmas Eve and could slip to the number four seed if they lose at home to the 49ers. McVay said there is not much of a difference between being the third or fourth seed because both come with a home playoff game.

"When you look at getting guys healthy, knowing that you are going to be able to play a home playoff game and then you think about kind of the risk-reward, we feel like that's probably going to be the best decision, is to rest some of those guys for our team," McVay said. "Make no mistake about it, the guys that we are going to go forward with, we're going to do everything in our power to compete to go win a football game. But everything we do, like we've said, is intentional. I think that's served us well up to this point.

"You don't take anything away for what this game means to us this coming week, but when you say, knowing that you do have the opportunity to play that home playoff game the following week and is it a three [seed], is it a four? How does that really alter and affect compared to some of things that could potentially occur? That's more than likely the approach that we're going to take.

"The most important thing is for those guys that are banged up right now - [Ogletree and Barron', that's where you feel pretty good about maybe saying, 'Alright, these are guys that are definite candidates to rest them and get them as healthy as possible for that first playoff game'."

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