The start of the 2023 season is already a tough one for the Los Angeles Rams as they’ll open the year without Cooper Kupp.
Kupp suffered a setback in his rehab from a hamstring injury which led to Sean McVay ruling him out this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s unclear how much time Kupp will miss, though McVay left open the possibility that he could go on injured reserve.
Without the offense’s number one target, Matthew Stafford will have to rely on the rest of the receiver room to move the chains. Players like Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek will see more usage, while Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua will be called upon as well.
Jefferson admitted the team is better with Kupp on the field, but he is focused on getting the job done with who’s available, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“Cooper’s very, as you can tell, intellectual about everything, and you know how punctual he is about everything,” Jefferson told theRams.com. “So I think everyone’s taken on that role of just helping each other, if someone has a question, just giving them the answer, and Coop did a great job of that. We’re going to go out there with who we roll with, and be ready.”
Nacua echoed Jefferson’s comments and acknowledged how fortunate he is to have mentors on the roster:
“I think as an offense, the knowledge changes, the communication is up even more, because Coop, he demands so much control and he’s a leader out there,” rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua told theRams.com. “So when we’re out there, he’s communicating, putting everybody in the right spot. It’s like having another quarterback in the wide receiver room. That’s why I’ve been blessed to have the veteran guys in this offense communicating at a high level so we can all be on the same page.”
Meanwhile, Skowronek looked at the bright side and said that he and other wideouts get more reps with their leader out:
“When (Kupp)’s not out there, you get experience, and the NFL, it’s a league where you for the most part need experience to succeed,” Skowronek said. “So getting those reps is a good thing for a lot of guys.”
Lastly, Atwell believes that even with Kupp sidelined he can fill in as he’s worked hard to learn all the nuances of his position:
“I feel like I did a good job at all three positions and I learned everything I could,” Atwell told theRams.com. “It just makes it easier for me to move around and know the offense more.”
It remains to be seen how long Kupp will be out, but it will be up to these other young receivers to step up in his absence if the Rams are gonna win any games.