(Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
The Seattle Seahawks likely won't overlook the Los Angeles Rams heading into Sunday's NFC West matchup in Inglewood, Calif.
The Rams are coming off a bye and quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a sprained ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand.
Plus, there's the little matter of the season opener in Seattle, when the Rams pulled away in the second half for a 30-13 victory.
"I thought we were in great shape (at halftime). It's shocking to me now that we weren't able to take advantage of that," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team was outscored 23-0 after intermission. "... I don't think we were cocky at all. We surely didn't talk like that."
Stafford returns for the Rams after missing a 20-3 loss at Green Bay on Nov. 5.
"He's making great progress, and so we're operating with the anticipation and expectation that he is going to be good to go," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "He'll be pushing through, but we expect him to be able to start and play and do his thing and lead the way this week."
Stafford was a full participant in practice this week, while offensive tackle Rob Havenstein (calf), cornerback Cobie Durant (shoulder), defensive end Larrell Murchison (knee) and receiver Puka Nacua (knee) were limited.
Stafford has passed for 2,070 yards with eight TDs and seven interceptions while completing 59.7 percent of his attempts for the Rams (3-6), who have lost three in a row.
Stafford has a new backup in Carson Wentz, who was signed last week after Brett Rypien was waived.
"It's really just a chance to upgrade the quarterback room," McVay said. "We feel good about Matthew returning, and when he's out there, you feel great about the leadership that he provides. But God forbid if something were to happen where he weren't available, we felt like this would offer an opportunity with someone that's played a lot of high-level football to get him in here, get him familiar with some of the things that we're doing."
Rypien has since landed with the Seahawks as their No. 3 quarterback.
The Seahawks (6-3) defeated the visiting Washington Commanders 29-26 Sunday on a last-second field goal by Jason Myers to remain tied atop the division with the San Francisco 49ers.
"We had moments where we did really well. We had moments where we need to clean things up," said Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who returned to Seattle in the offseason after spending last year with the Rams. "We just got to get better."
After struggling for a few weeks, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith got it together in the second half against the Commanders. He completed 9 of 11 passes on Seattle's final two scoring drives, with one of those a spike to stop the clock.
"We have a lot of faith in him. He's a great leader and we trust him," Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III said of Smith. "I see it day in and day out. In those situations, I'm glad that we've got Geno."
Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (hamstring) and tight end Colby Parkinson (biceps) have missed practice time this week, while punter Michael Dickson (hamstring), offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (knee) and guard Damien Lewis (back) have been limited participants.
--Field Level Media