LOS ANGELES (AP) — Safety Eric Weddle is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams for the playoffs.
Weddle turned 37 last week and he hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2019 season, but the Rams signed him to their practice squad on Wednesday to meet their egregious need for security.
Leading tackler Jordan Fuller is out of the playoffs with a right ankle injury, and fellow starting safety Taylor Rapp is on concussion protocol.
Weddle retired in February 2020 after one season with the Rams, making 108 tackles and calling the defense signals. The Los Angeles native spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens before his year with the Rams on Wade Phillips’ defense.
The NFC West champion Rams (12-5) returns to practice on Thursday ahead of their visit from the Arizona Cardinals (11-6) on Monday night. The Rams were off on Wednesday, but Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury noticed Weddle’s surprise comeback.
“He must have a much healthier lifestyle than I did after I retired,” Kingsbury said. “A few years ago he was a fantastic player. All-Pro, Pro Bowl, one of the smartest defensive players anyone ever talks about. If someone can do it, he can do it.”
The Rams missed the playoffs in Weddle’s only season with the team. The two-time All-Pro roster and six-time Pro Bowler with 29 career interceptions have appeared in just one playoff game since 2013, but the Utah product jumps at the opportunity to fill in for a defense that desperately needs help.
Fuller, the lead tackler and defensive signal caller for the Rams, is out for the season after injuring his ankle in the Rams’ overtime loss against San Francisco last Sunday, costing them the second seed in the NFC. Rapp was also injured late in the game and went into concussion protocol Monday.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is having an excellent season, but every defending defender in Los Angeles except him and Fuller has had a rough year. Rapp, Darious Williams, Dont’e Deayon, Nick Scott and David Long have all struggled at various points in the coverage and as tacklers. Los Angeles finished 17th in the NFL in total yards allowed this season, after being the league’s stingiest defense in 2020.
The Rams secondary and linebackers group are obvious weaknesses that can be exploited by capable offenses. Kyler Murray has already thrown 651 yards this season against the LA defense for the Cardinals, who gained 912 yards splitting their two encounters with the Rams this season.
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