The Los Angeles Rams were decimated by injuries last season with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and countless offensive linemen going down and completely ruining their season. This year is supposed to be a bounce back year for the franchise, but the injury bug is already popping up once again.
Kupp is dealing with a hamstring injury and suffered a setback as he returned to practice and tried to ramp things up in preparation for Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams have already ruled out Kupp for the opening contest and there is even concern that the team could choose to put him on injured reserve.
It’s no secret how big a part of the Rams offense Kupp is, but Stafford is looking on the positive side of things. The Rams quarterback says he is excited for the opportunities this creates for the rest of the Rams receivers, via Stu Jackson of Rams.com:
“Cooper was out some of training camp as well and we had some guys have to come in there and step up and make plays for us and they’ve done that,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said after Wednesday’s practice. “Through joint practices, practicing against our defense, we’ve had a lot of guys step up and make some great plays and (I have) total trust in everybody that’s put out there to go out there and make plays. I’m excited for those guy’s opportunities, obviously like I said, disappointed for Cooper but at the same time I’m excited about the guys that we have going out there and trying to make some big plays.”
Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Demarcus Robinson and rookie Puka Nacua are the receivers who have that chance to step up in Kupp’s absence. Of course tight end Tyler Higbee will also play a big role as well.
There is no single player who will step up to replace what Kupp brings to the table, but Stafford says his top receiver’s absence doesn’t change much as he will continue to put the ball where it needs to be depending on what the defense gives them:
“I try to play the game as cleanly as I possibly can and throw the ball where the coverage dictates,” Stafford said. “No question about it from a skill position point, there’s a lot of stuff that goes through Cooper where he may be designed to be the number one or if we get a certain pressure we’re going to get to this play and let him go do what he does best. Obviously, he’s not going to be out on the field but my job really doesn’t change much. It’s, hey, go out there and throw the ball where it’s supposed to be thrown accurately and on time and let those guys do what they do because we’ve got some talented guys on the outside that can make plays both down the field and also after the catch.”
It certainly won’t be an easy task without their best offensive player, but sometimes all that’s needed is an opportunity and it is here for the Rams pass catchers now. Stafford believes in them so it’s simply a matter of taking advantage of what’s in front of them.