LT Whit­worth al­ready look­ing to 15th sea­son

Rams left tackle, 38, pre­par­ing for next sea­son

Antelope Valley Press - - Sports - By DAN GREENSPAN

THOU­SAND OAKS — An­drew Whit­worth wants to keep play­ing foot­ball.

The left tackle for the Los Angeles Rams doesn’t see any rea­son why he should stop.

The 38-year-old Whit­worth said Tues­day he wants to come back for a 15th NFL sea­son, but he un­der­stands Sun­day’s game against Ari­zona could be his last one with the Rams.

“Ob­vi­ously peo­ple talk about age, but I would say, you know, for me as player I feel bet­ter and have played bet­ter this year than I played the year I be­came a free agent and came here,” Whit­worth said. “So it is what it is, so we’ll see how it works out.”

Whit­worth is in the fi­nal sea­son of a three-year con­tract with Los Angeles. He has played all but 10 of the Rams’ 1,028 of­fen­sive snaps, pro­vid­ing sta­bil­ity to an of­fen­sive line that has been lim­ited by in­juries and in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

The start­ing five against the Car­di­nals will look al­most noth­ing like the group that opened the sea­son, let alone the line that took the Rams to the Su­per Bowl.

The con­stant turnover is one rea­son why the Rams (8-7) missed the play­offs for the first time in three sea­sons un­der coach Sean McVay.

“For me, it’s a sea­son that didn’t work out how we wanted but still a lot to be proud of,” Whit­worth said. “Re­ally just go­ing through a sea­son like this where you lose as many guys up as we did up front and play with as many young guys as we did, I’m just proud to go through it and play it and feel like I played well.”

Penalties have ticked up for Whit­worth. He has been flagged 12 times, in­clud­ing eight hold­ing calls, but he be­lieves his game has held up in spite of the no­tion that time has caught up with him.

Whit­worth was amused by a re­cent ar­ti­cle look­ing ahead to the im­pend­ing free agency of Ari­zona of­fen­sive tackle D.J. Humphries, com­par­ing the

25-year-old to other young line­men such as Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari and Hous­ton’s Laremy Tun­sil.

Whit­worth won­dered how he can be “right there in the same cat­e­gory with all of them, ac­tu­ally less than ‘em in most ev­ery­thing, but it’s like the nar­ra­tive is you’re old and you’ve hit a wall and those guys are like up-and-com­ing su­per­stars. And it’s like, ‘Well, wait a minute. Sta­tis­ti­cally, we’re the ex­act same, so how does that work,’ you know what I mean?”

Quar­ter­back Jared Goff also thinks Whit­worth is still play­ing at a high level. What has al­lowed Whit­worth to main­tain that form is the re­lent­less­ness with which he ap­proaches the phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion lead­ing up to a game, the trait that has im­pressed Goff most in their time play­ing to­gether.

“The way he prac­tices ev­ery­day, and you just see the way that he works, and you re­al­ize guys like him and guys around the league and guys that have played for that long, they are not there by ac­ci­dent,” Goff said. “They’re not in their 14th year play­ing at a high level be­cause they’re phys­i­cally gifted. It’s be­cause of the work ethic and you see the way he works ev­ery day, the way he runs from drill to drill and treats each rep in prac­tice like it’s his last. And it’s some­thing that I’ll def­i­nitely hold with me for as long as I play.”

While he wishes Los Angeles was pre­par­ing for a game with post­sea­son im­pli­ca­tions, Whit­worth is look­ing for­ward to show­ing what he is still ca­pa­ble of against Ari­zona.

“To me, in these mo­ments and these games is when you send a mes­sage of what kind of foot­ball player you re­ally are,” Whit­worth said. “The way you com­pete, the way you ex­e­cute. Even when it doesn’t mean as much and it can’t bring you some­thing, it’s still a great rep­re­sen­ta­tion of who you are as a foot­ball player.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

FI­NALE? Ari­zona Car­di­nals line­backer Chandler Jones, left, bat­tles Los Angeles Rams of­fen­sive tackle An­drew Whit­worth (77) dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game on Dec. 1 in Glen­dale, Ariz.

As­so­ci­ated Press

GOOD GAME — Los Angeles Rams of­fen­sive tackle An­drew Whit­worth, left, talks with San Francisco 49ers of­fen­sive tackle Joe Sta­ley af­ter an NFL foot­ball game in Santa Clara on Satur­day.

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