IRVINE — When John Wolford woke up at the Rams’ training camp hotel on Friday morning with a pain in his side, it turned into a pain in, well, other parts for his coaches.
Wolford ended up having an appendectomy and is expected to be sidelined for 10 to 14 days, the team said.
The second-string quarterback’s unavailability will force some reshuffling at the position for the Rams’ scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday and their first preseason game against the Chargers on Aug. 14 at SoFi Stadium.
No big deal on the surface. The Rams hope Matthew Stafford’s backup is unneeded, like an appendix. But Wolford might be called on, as he was when Jared Goff got hurt last season, and he needs preseason reps to stay ready.
“John caught us a little bit off-guard with that news, (and) obviously we want to get him all fixed up and ready to roll as soon as possible,” Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said.
Stafford and other starters on offense and defense are expected to see much of the action in the joint practice, first of three the Rams scheduled in August, against the Cowboys on Saturday afternoon in Oxnard.
With Wolford out, the second-unit offense will be led Saturday by Duck Hodges, the former Pittsburgh Steelers backup signed in January, and Bryce Perkins, who spent last year on the Rams’ practice squad.
Since Coach Sean McVay will hold Stafford and other starters out of the three preseason games to protect against injuries, either Hodges or Perkins will be in line to start against the Chargers.
“It’ll give Bryce and Duck a great opportunity, just like they had (in practice Friday),” O’Connell said. “The game makes sense to both those guys. We get to really evaluate how they see it, how they’ll throw it, and steal some extra reps outside of the preseason games and get some evaluation going.”
The scrimmage against Dallas will offer the first glimpse of how Stafford and the offense look against an actual opponent since he arrived in a trade with the Detroit Lions six months ago.
“We’ll learn about ourselves a little bit more,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said Friday. “We’ll see how guys compete. Maybe see how guys do under a little bit of pressure, (not) in an environment that we control.”
“We’ll just kind of see where we are at that point,” Stafford said earlier this week.
Where they are depends in part on how the running backs look after Cam Akers’ Achilles injury, with third-year back Darrell Henderson the most experienced Ram at the position and Xavier Jones and Jake Funk apparently leading the in-house competition to back him up.
And it depends on how the wide receiver group shakes out with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp joined by free agent signing DeSean Jackson and second-year Van Jefferson, and 2020 undrafted signing Trishton Jackson having a strong camp.
A scrimmage, as opposed to the daily intrasquad practices, will provide “competitive reps against some different looks,” O’Connell said.
“We get a lot of great work against our defense, but they’re pretty unique in how they do things from the standpoint of the philosophical way they play certain (pass) routes, the pressures that we see,” O’Connell said.
“It’ll be great to go against somebody else full-speed, and see where we’re at in blocking some different bodies and seeing some different coverages.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott (strained shoulder muscle) won’t throw in the scrimmage for the Cowboys, who opened the preseason only two days ago with a 16-3 loss to the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game.
McVay and Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy have spoken to plan the scrimmage, scripting situations that both teams want to work on.
The Rams signed cornerback Donovan Olumba on Friday, a day after they released cornerback Dayan Lake. Olumba, 25, went undrafted out of Portland State in 2018 and spent time on the Cowboys and Browns practice squads. With rookie Robert Rochell out following wrist surgery, the Rams have seven active corners on their roster, which stands at 89. … Notable plays in practice Friday: Stafford threading a pass to Woods at the right sideline (although defensive back Dont’e Deayon claimed loudly that Woods was out of bounds). Safety Jordan Fuller picking off a Hodges pass that ticked off the fingers of rookie tight end Jacob Harris. … Defensive lineman Aaron Donald, linebacker Leonard Floyd, DeSean Jackson and tight end Tyler Higbee returned to practice after having “veteran days off” Thursday.