The All-Pro wide receiver and Super Bowl 56 Most Valuable Player was officially ruled out for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, with head coach Sean McVay making the announcement to the L.A. media on Wednesday, September 6 in Thousand Oaks.
His missing presence now gets plenty of fans inside the “Rams House,” plus NFL fans in general, wondering if this alters Stafford’s game up at Lumen Field.
Stafford Acknowledged Impact of Kupp, But Believes in Current WR Room
Even Stafford will share that Kupp is so impactful, that the Rams have drawn up plays made specifically for the 2021 Pro Bowl wideout.
“No question about it, from a skills standpoint, there’s a lot of stuff that goes through Cooper,” Stafford shared to the media. “He may be designed to be the No. 1 or if we get a certain pressure, we’re just going to get this play and let him go do what he does best.”
But, will his absence change things up against a team that made the wildcard round of the NFC playoffs? Especially with a loaded secondary that brings back prized 2022 rookie find Tariq Woolen who picked off six passes and welcomes back fellow Pro Bowler Quandre Diggs at free safety?
Stafford revealed what happens to him now job wise now that he won’t have a beloved co-worker of his with him.
“But my job doesn’t change much. It’s go out and throw the ball where it’s supposed to be throwed. And let those guys do what they do because we have some talented guys on the outside who can make plays both down the field and after the catch. So I’m excited,” Stafford said.
Who Can Stafford Turn to Now? One Option Has 35 Career Catches vs. Seahawks
With no Kupp, there’s still familiarity for Stafford in the receiving department.
Minus the newcomer from BYU Puka Nacua, the Rams have a deep group of options already well-versed in learning Seattle’s defense and coverage schemes.
One is veteran tight end Tyler Higbee, who has been the longest running receiving option on the Rams dating back to Jeff Fisher’s final year of 2016. As noted by Jake Ellenbogen of Downtown Rams, Higbee has 35 career receptions and two touchdowns facing the Seahawks.
But also up is the oldest available member of the WR position group Van Jefferson, who’s now entering his fourth season and has nine catches for 154 yards in six total games played versus the NFC West northern rival.
Tutu Atwell is another anticipated to see extensive snaps. Atwell is in his third season and one year ago, gained a total of 109 all-purpose yards with one touchdown facing Seattle.
There’s also captain Ben Skowronek. He snatched a 22-yard catch in the home loss of 2022 and could be used as a versatile option once again — as a wideout and lead blocker in the run game.
Speaking of run game, last year Cam Akers scored both touchdowns for the Rams in the 27-23 loss at SoFi Stadium and then finished the 2022 season with 104 rushing yards in the last meeting in Seattle.