Rams' relief: Matthew Stafford's thumb just sprained but not sure if he can play

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford wears a bandage on his throwing hand to protect the thumb he injured against Dallas.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford wears a bandage on his throwing hand to protect the thumb he injured against Dallas. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb during a loss to the Dallas Cowboys and he will be evaluated “day to day” as the Rams prepare for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, coach Sean McVay said Monday.

“We were encouraged that it was a sprain,” McVay said during a video conference with reporters. “I think there was some potential concerns that it could be worse. ... Hopefully, it was just a good scare.”

During the 43-20 rout by the Cowboys, Stafford’s thumb hit the helmet of a Cowboys player as he threw a pass on a two-point conversion attempt. Stafford stayed in the game and led the Rams on a touchdown drive but he aggravated the injury when his hand hit the turf after catching a two-point conversion pass.

Brett Rypien, who replaced Stafford in the third quarter, could start against the Packers if Stafford is not available.

The Rams also are expected to sign another quarterback.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) dives for a two-point conversion against Dallas.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) dives for a two-point conversion against Dallas. He aggravated an already injured thumb on his throwing hand on the play. (Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

Rookie Stetson Bennett, who the Rams drafted to be Stafford’s backup, struggled at the end of the preseason and was placed on the non-football injury list for an unspecified issue. He has not been with the team this season.

McVay said Bennett “is doing well” but gave no other update.

“I’m not ready to say that he won't be back with us at all this year,” McVay said, “but it’s probably less likely than it is likely he would be.”

Stafford, 35, has been through a thumb injury before.

In the spring before the 2021 season, after he was traded to the Rams from the Detroit Lions, he reportedly had a surgical procedure to repair the same ligament.

McVay said Stafford has scar tissue, so the Rams will monitor swelling and bruising and how it affects Stafford’s ability to grip and throw the ball, McVay said.

“It’s really about let’s see what happens over the next 24 to 48 hours,” McVay said, adding, “I think we’d be silly to not try to get our ducks in row if he’s not able to go.”

McVay, however, said the Rams would not push Stafford.

Read more: It's thumbs down for Rams, Matthew Stafford after blowout loss to Cowboys

“We would love to be able to have him available to us but not at the expense of pushing it,” McVay said, “and making sure that you’re not leaving him susceptible to anything unnecessary.”

Last season, after Stafford suffered a concussion and then a season-ending spinal injury, the Rams turned to backup John Wolford before acquiring Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield is now the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wolford is on the Buccaneers practice squad.

Asked if he was leaning toward acquiring a quarterback he had worked with in the past, McVay said the scenario was enticing.

Read more: Rams' 43-20 road loss to the Dallas Cowboys by the numbers

“I don’t think that’s necessarily a mandate,” he said. “We’ve talked about a handful of names already, some of which fall under that criteria and some don’t.”

Rams tight end Tyler Higbee said teammates were ready to support Rypien if Stafford is unable to play.

“Brett prepares himself every week as if he’s going to be the starter,” Higbee said during a video conference with reporters. “I was actually talking to him about it a few weeks ago, just how it can be somewhat mentally challenging knowing you’re not necessarily going to be the starter but going in every week and preparing as if you are.

“He’s a guy who has done that and I think he will do that again this week and be ready to go and win a ballgame.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.