The Los Angeles Rams have missed All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp in their offensive scheme through the first three weeks of the season. Sean McVay’s offense has managed to put together some strong performances thanks to the breakout rookie Puka Nacua, but Kupp would add a completely new dynamic.
Kupp has been out since the preseason with an ongoing hamstring issue, which he was placed on injured reserve for prior to Week 1. This meant that he would be out until at least Week 5, as IR requires a minimum of four missed games. The hope was that Kupp’s injury would be settled in time for him to return for a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 8.
McVay would also like Kupp to return for Week 5, and has not ruled it out, but he believes it’s more important for Kupp to return at 100% strength than just to return when he’s healthy enough to play, according to Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
McVay said Kupp is “progressing,” but emphasized the Rams are aiming for return to performance, and not simply return to play, for Kupp.
“He’s progressing, he’s doing a good job, but I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into (saying Kupp will play Week 5),” McVay said. “He’s ramping up his workload. He’s doing a great job with (Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his group. But when you’re talking about returning to performance and returning to play, those are different things. And we want him to be able to return to performance at the level that he’s capable of. And so we’re continuing to take it a day at a time. I know he’s doing everything in his power to be able to get himself ready to go and get out there with his teammates and hopefully next week will represent that.”
The Rams will be without Kupp when they face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but getting him back for the Eagles matchup would be massive. Philadelphia has a dynamic offense, and the Rams are going to need all the help they can get to try and match them.
The good news is that McVay later confirmed that Kupp will return to practice after Week 4:
Sean McVay said Cooper Kupp will starting practicing next week, indicating the team will open the 21-day window to activate him off of IR.
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) September 29, 2023
After the Eagles game, Weeks 6 and 7 see the Rams face the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps signaling easier matchups for Kupp to return to. Easing Kupp in with that type of matchup may be smarter than rushing him to return against one of the better cornerback duos in football with Darius Slay and James Bradberry of the Eagles.
McVay points to self-inflicted wounds against Bengals
McVay believes the Rams put themselves in a position to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, especially with their defensive performances. But self-inflicted wounds by the offense put the game out of reach and dropped L.A. to 1-2.