X-rays on Matthew Stafford's thumb are negative, QB returns to Rams practice

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IRVINE, CA - JULY 28, 2021: Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass on the first day of training camp at UC Irvine on July 28, 2021 in Irvine, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to return to practice a day after injuring his thumb. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The X-rays on Matthew Stafford’s surgically repaired right thumb were negative, an existential quarterback crisis mercifully averted, but Rams coach Sean McVay still wanted to play it safe with his newly acquired signal caller.

Stafford had slammed his thumb hard enough into a helmet on Monday to sustain a contusion, and it stood to reason he should get at least a day off for the soreness to abate.

That was the team’s plan, at least. But when the Rams opened practice on Tuesday, Stafford emerged in full pads and red quarterback jersey, with no intention of sitting out a single snap. The Rams, trusting their new veteran, obliged, allowing him to practice without limitation.

“He felt good about it,” McVay said. “I think he’s earned the right to give us feedback, to know how his body feels. If he felt like that was the best approach, we’d do that.”

Stafford admitted after the practice that he wasn’t 100 percent, but said he refused to miss the first day in pads.

“Whether I’m 100 percent or not, every opportunity I get to call a play and run it against our defense and with our guys is an opportunity I need to get,” Stafford said. “I don’t want to waste them. If it was good enough to go, then I’m going to be out there to go.”

Stafford said his thumb went immediately numb upon impact Monday. He spent the rest of practice on the sideline before being examined Monday night by team physician Neal ElAttrache, who cleared him after testing the strength in his thumb. X-rays revealed a small contusion, but no fractures, sprains or torn ligaments.

The prognosis proved a major sigh of relief for the Rams, many of whom were collectively holding their breath.

“I was worried,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “When we was doing the walk-through earlier, I said, ‘Let me see your finger’, and he was good, so I was like, ‘We cool.’ ”

It’s not the first time Stafford has played through pain in the thumb in his throwing hand. With the Lions last season, he suffered a torn ligament in a mid-November victory over Washington, then proceeded to play seven more games to close the season. He had surgery in March to repair the damage to his thumb.

“I’d imagine any human being, when you hit your thumb that hard coming down over the top of someone’s helmet, it’s going to be irritated and a little frustrating, but he would never say anything,” McVay said.

Although he was able to gut out practice Tuesday, Stafford didn’t look nearly as sharp as he had over the previous week. He missed a few open receivers and sailed a few passes, but in light of the positive prognosis, didn’t seem too concerned.

“Never fun to have something as vital as a throwing thumb not feel 100 percent, but at the same time, I’m sure happy it wasn’t anything bad,” Stafford said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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