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Rams without TE Higbee; Donald questionable

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams on Friday officially ruled tight end Tyler Higbee out and listed defensive tackle Aaron Donald and right guard Austin Blythe as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Higbee suffered a lung contusion last Sunday in a win over the New Orleans Saints. The fourth-year pro, who has six catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, did not practice throughout the week.

Third-year tight end Gerald Everett will start in Higbee’s absence. Johnny Mundt, who is typically inactive on game day, will be the backup.

Donald has been dealing with a back strain that he suffered in the second quarter against the Saints, but the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said Friday that he was “100 percent” and would play against the Browns.

“I feel good,” Donald said.

When asked how he suffered the strain, Donald responded: “I’m just so fast, I was moving so fast and I strained it. That’s what happened, honestly.”

Donald was limited in practice throughout the week and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game out of caution, Rams coach Sean McVay said.

“Unless something really unforeseen happens, this guy is going on Sunday night,” McVay said.

A Pittsburgh native, Donald is expecting several family members to make the two-hour drive to attend the game.

“I got to show up and show out,” Donald said.

Blythe, a second-year starter, sprained his left ankle last Sunday.

“With these ankle injuries, it’s one of those deals we’re going to use all the time that we do have,” McVay said. “See if we can get some of that swelling out and if he feels good enough, then we’ll make a decision on that.”

If Blythe is unable to play, the Rams will have three first-year starters on the interior of their line with Jamil Demby expected to start in Blythe’s absence.

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Rams unsure if Jalen Ramsey will debut Sunday vs. Falcons

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead expressed uncertainty Wednesday whether newly acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be available to play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

But Rams coach Sean McVay sounded emphatic that Ramsey will be needed.

“The goal is to be able to get him to play on Sunday,” McVay said. “We’ll be smart about it.”

The Rams, who are 3-3 after losing three straight, are down two starting cornerbacks after trading Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens and placing cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve. Safety John Johnson also was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Backup Troy Hill will take over one starting role, and, if Ramsey is unable to play, Darious Williams will fill the other. Backup safety Marqui Christian will replace Johnson.

Ramsey arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to undergo a physical. Despite not playing the past three weeks for the Jacksonville Jaguars, citing a back issue, the Rams expect that Ramsey will pass his physical.

“Excited to get to work and do my thing,” Ramsey told the team website, after landing in Southern California.

The Rams sent first-round picks in 2020 and ’21, and a 2021 fourth-round pick, to the Jaguars for Ramsey, who requested a trade from the team following a Week 2 sideline dispute with coach Doug Marrone.

The fifth overall pick in 2016, Ramsey is under his rookie contract through the 2020 season, when he is scheduled to earn $13.7 million.

Ramsey reported to the Jaguars training camp before the season in an armored truck, indicating he was ready for a significant payday.

When asked if the Rams intend to sign Ramsey to a long-term extension, Snead revealed few details.

“No timeline on that,” Snead said. “We did put a timeline a little bit in place with it. I don’t want to give too many details on that. Again, we are just meeting Jalen today. Obviously, he to date, has earned a chance to probably get a nice contract for the job he does and the position he plays.”

McVay, who has welcomed known personalities such as Talib, Peters and Ndamukong Suh, did not appear concerned about some of Ramey’s apparent antics.

“You want guys with some swag, personality,” McVay said. “Different things like that. As long as those guys love football, they love competing every single day. I think this is a building that will suit him well.”

In 51 starts, Ramsey has nine interceptions and 45 pass breakups.

“Very exciting thing for us,” McVay said. “Obviously, know the caliber of player he is. The competitiveness, the toughness, really all the traits you look for in a corner. Those are some of the things exciting about getting him in here. Looking forward to getting to know the player and figuring out how he’s going to help this football team.”

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49ers’ Kyle Shanahan says he’s ‘moved on’ from Redskins dysfunction

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As his San Francisco 49ers prepare to play the Washington Redskins on Sunday, coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t exactly nostalgic about returning to the nation’s capital.

Shanahan served as Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013, working with his father Mike, who was the head coach at the time.

On Wednesday, Shanahan was asked what his favorite part of his time in Washington was.

“Being able to work with my dad and be around some other good coaches,” Shanahan said.

And the worst part?

“Everything else,” Shanahan said.

After a brief pause, Shanahan added that he did like working with “a lot of the players,” also. While it’s clear Shanahan has not forgotten his tumultuous time in Washington, he insists that there’s no added motivation this week against the Redskins other than trying to get his team to its first 6-0 start since 1990.

“No, not at all,” Shanahan said. “That was a while ago. I’ve been in three different buildings since. My dad retired. He’s good. We’ve accepted what we had to deal with there and moved on. We’ll watch other people deal with it.”

Aside from an NFC East division title in 2012, Shanahan’s time in Washington was mostly marked by controversy surrounding the team. The Redskins did not have a winning record in any of the other three years Shanahan was on staff and Shanahan has previously made it clear that he didn’t care for the how the organization was run or the trade for and subsequent handling of quarterback Robert Griffin III, among a variety of other issues.

Shanahan took over as the Niners’ head coach in 2017 after serving as the Atlanta Falcons‘ offensive coordinator the previous two years. Sunday’s game will be the 49ers’ second trip to Washington since Shanahan became the head coach.

The 49ers lost 26-24 to Washington in Week 6 of the 2017 season at FedEx Field. This time, the Niners head into Sunday’s game at 5-0, while Washington is 1-5 and recently fired head coach Jay Gruden. San Francisco enters the matchup as a 10-point favorite.

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Packers sign veteran receiver Ryan Grant amid spate of injuries

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — With injuries piling up at receiver and production waning at tight end, the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday signed veteran wideout Ryan Grant and used of one of their injured reserve/designated to return spots on rookie tight end Jace Sternberger.

While Sternberger can’t play until after Week 8 per injured-reserve rules, the Packers might need Grant for this Sunday against one of his former teams, the Oakland Raiders.

Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams is in danger of missing his third straight game because of turf toe, and Geronimo Allison left Monday night’s win over the Detroit Lions because of a head and chest injury.

The Packers worked out Grant on Oct. 7, less than two weeks after he was released by the Raiders.

A fifth-round pick in 2014 by the Washington Redskins, Grant has 123 career receptions for 1,333 yards and seven touchdowns in 80 career games (64 for the Redskins, 14 for the Colts in 2018 and two this season for the Raiders).

The Packers finished Monday’s game with fifth-round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling and three former undrafted free agents — Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow and Darrius Shepherd — as their available receivers.

After Shepherd dropped a pass near the goal line that the Lions intercepted, quarterback Aaron Rodgers lobbied for Lazard, who responded with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown — all in the fourth quarter. Previously, he had one career NFL catch.

“I’m just excited for where he could go,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Lazard. “He’s got to now, anybody can do it one time, and that’s what we say. But now you’ve got to do it each and every time. That’s the expectation, and that’s the standard. But, again, he puts in the work, and he does a great job at practice. So I’m excited to see him put together back to back to back, and see where it goes.”

As for the tight-end spot, Sternberger won’t be eligible to play until Nov. 3 at the Chargers but can begin practicing immediately. It leaves the Packers with just one more spot for a player eligible to come off injured reserve.

For now, it appears the Packers plan to stick with veteran Jimmy Graham despite a lack of production. Graham dropped a would-be touchdown against the Lions and ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches (including two games without a catch). Against the Lions, fellow veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis was more productive (two catches for 50 yards) than Graham (two for 17 yards).

“I still have total confidence in Jimmy,” LaFleur said. “And you know it’s one of those deals I just want to make sure that he knows that all of us, we believe in him. And Jimmy’s his own worst critic at times and he can get down on himself. But I think he’s going to be ready to battle back this week and come out and put a good performance together.”

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