Irvine: For a moment Wednesday, every Rams coach on the field and executive on the sideline held their breath.
Quarterback Jared Goff was on the ground.
During a prolonged scrimmage at UC Irvine, in the penultimate training-camp practice, linebacker Samson Ebukam had rushed on the outside and battled with left tackle Andrew Whitworth. The 330-pound Whitworth took a few steps back and accidentally collided with Goff, knocking the franchise’s most important player to the turf.
The anxiety was palpable.
A mass exhale ensued as Goff slowly got to his feet.
“To say I was holding my breath, I think it would be probably a little bit more than that,” coach Sean McVay said.
The bump that sent him sprawling might be the most contact Goff absorbs until the September 10 opener against the Oakland Raiders on “Monday Night Football.”
Goff and other starters were held out of last week’s preseason opener at Baltimore to avoid injury and almost certainly will not play against the Raiders on Saturday at the Coliseum.
They might get snaps in the third preseason game against Houston but, in keeping with standard NFL practice, they are on track to sit out the final preseason game at New Orleans.
So Whitworth’s contact with Goff qualified as dramatic.
“I literally just stepped back and tried to move out of the way and thought someone was at my feet,” Whitworth said. “And it was Jared behind me.
“In practice you’re always worried when you’re running into each other and guys are falling all over the place. But he’s fine. And, you know, at least now he’s got a hit for the preseason.”