California wildfires force practice changes for Rams, 49ers, Raiders
NFL monitoring situation with games set for Sunday, Monday
The Los Angeles Rams canceled practice Friday after a wildfire forced about 20 players and coaches to evacuate their homes.
The Rams (8-1) will cram their normal Friday preparations into a workout at the University of Southern California today before they face the Seattle Seahawks at the Coliseum on Sunday.
Just one day after the Rams were stunned by a mass shooting less than five miles from their training complex in Thousand Oaks, they were forced to make big changes in their normal game-week routine by two wildfires burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
“I don’t think anybody’s house has been specifically affected, but they did have to leave the areas,” coach Sean McVay said. “It’s still a scary thing, and extremely unfortunate that they had to go through this. … We just felt like the most important thing was for people to be with their families.”
About 45 Rams employees were evacuated from neighborhoods south of the Rams’ training complex, although McVay doesn’t believe any homes have been lost. Those forced to leave their homes Friday included defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Johnson.
Some of the evacuees moved early into the downtown hotel used by the Rams on the night before games. McVay will hold morning meetings at the hotel today, followed by a practice at USC.
The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders altered their practice schedules Friday, as well, due to the wildfire.
With the air quality rated at levels considered unhealthy, the 49ers worked out earlier so they could get off the field before conditions worsened.
The team has been in contact with NFL officials to keep them updated about the situation, 49ers spokesman Bob Lange said. The 49ers don’t play until Monday, when they host the New York Giants.
The NFL is also monitoring the situation in nearby Oakland, where the Raiders are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon. The Raiders changed their Friday practice to a walkthrough instead of a full practice as a precaution.
Coach Jon Gruden said he didn’t know if the poor air quality would force any change to the game schedule.
“I hope that the fires go away,” he said. “I’m more concerned about a lot of people that are being impacted by this. We’ll react to whatever the circumstances are, whatever happens. I just hope this ends fast.”
JAGUARS: Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette is good to go for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.
Fournette practiced without any limitations or setbacks all week, prompting coach Doug Marrone to declare him “completely healthy” for the first time since Week 4.
The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft missed the last four games and six of eight this season because of a strained right hamstring.
Fournette has 20 carries for 71 yards with no touchdowns. He ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games in 2017.
BEARS: The Chicago Bears are getting Khalil Mack back for their game Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Asked if he would be 100 percent healthy or hindered by the sprained right ankle he suffered Oct. 14, the star pass rusher smiled on Friday, but hedged.
“You want me to give up everything?” Mack said. “When I get there, I’m going to try to be myself.”
If that means 100 percent healthy, it could be a problem for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford — especially after the Lions gave up 10 sacks to the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Mack has been out two weeks but practiced Friday to complete three straight days of full work. He is not listed on Chicago’s injury report and is expected to play.
CHIEFS: The Kansas City Chiefs could be getting some much-needed help for their ailing, leaky defense when linebacker Justin Houston and safety Daniel Sorensen are expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Houston has missed four straight games after hurting his hamstring, while Sorensen was added to the active roster this week after landing on injured reserve in training camp with a broken leg.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins practiced Friday for the first time this week after dealing with a foot injury, while Cam Erving was back on the field after dealing with an illness.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton collects himself after fumbling the ball after being hit during the first half of Carolina’s 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.
Khalil Mack has been out two weeks, but is expected to play Sunday when the Bears host the Lions.