While the Los Angeles Rams are getting their newcomers up to speed alongside the participating veterans for organized team activities (OTAs), one star was noticeably absent from the Tuesday, May 23 session: the Super Bowl 56 Most Valuable Player.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp was not at Thousand Oaks running routes or interacting with teammates Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell or even the new guys in the WR room. Head coach Sean McVay, though revealed the real reason why Kupp isn’t present.
“Cooper and Anna will be expecting their third (child),” McVay told reporters following practice.
McVay then stated how Kupp has joined Aaron Donald (who’s absent to spend time with family) in staying in communication with the Rams while away from the facility. But Kupp is also aiming to return from his injured ankle from 2023. That’s when McVay sent this message on the approach the Rams are taking with Kupp as he’s away for OTAs.
“I think we’ll just take that a day at a time,” McVay said. “Whenever he does come back, we’ll be smart with how we kind of onboard him and get him back up to speed.”
McVay Addresses State of WR Room Outside of Kupp
Kupp hasn’t just established himself as one of the league’s best wideouts, but the 2021 All-Pro is considered a tone setter and lead by example type during practices. And McVay says Kupp is doing his part in keeping himself ready.
“He’s the kind of guy, he’s doing a lot of stuff, [in] keeping himself ready to go,” McVay said. “But in his absence, taking care of the number one priority, which is obviously incredibly important, is you’re getting a lot of these younger guys or some of these guys to be able to establish a rapport with (QB) Matthew (Stafford).”
Kupp, when he returns, not only has Jefferson and Atwell in the same locker room with him, but now he has rookie Puka Nacua on his side. Regardless, McVay continued to express how this is a prime opportunity for the rest of the Rams wideouts including the new guy to establish chemistry with Stafford.
“We’re talking about whether it’s (WR) Van (Jefferson), whether it’s (WR) Tutu (Atwell), (WR) Puka (Nacua), (WR) Ben (Skowronek), guys are getting opportunities, with some of the new tight ends that we have, to just get a feel and for Matthew to be able to establish and develop a rapport that we didn’t get a chance to do last year and those are always chances to be able to improve,” McVay said. “So those guys will be ready to go, (I) know that they’re doing the right stuff on their own and when they’re back with us, we’ll obviously be excited about that as well.”
That rapport for the WRs at OTAs is especially beneficial for a Stafford returning from his spinal cord contusion that sidelined him toward the end of the 2022 season.
McVay Also Speaks on Stafford Working With New OC
A rarity for Stafford in his third season with the Rams: He’s on his third offensive coordinator.
Kevin O’Connell came first, followed by Liam Coen after O’Connell took over for the Minnesota Vikings in ’22. Now, Mike LaFleur steps in. Are Stafford and the new OC already in good standing?
“He’s a great communicator. He and Matthew established a real quick rapport,” McVay said. “Mike’s a hard guy not to like.”
McVay also described LaFleur as “super smart” and how “he’s got a great ability to understand the game from an all-22 perspective.”