THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP)Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp is returning to practice this week after missing the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
Kupp rejoined his teammates Wednesday when the Rams (2-2) began their preparations to host unbeaten Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Super Bowl 56 MVP entered the 21-day window for activation from injured reserve along with rookie linebacker Ochaun Mathis, who also hasn’t played this season. The 30-year-old Kupp strained his hamstring early in training camp and aggravated it in late August.
“(Kupp) has put in a lot of work behind the scenes to be able to rehab and get himself to where he’s feeling good,” coach Sean McVay said. “He said he’s feeling really good. I trust him. He’s a guy that really knows his body really well, a very experienced player. We want to be smart as we ramp up his workload.”
Kupp began this season on the injured list after also missing the final eight games of last season with an ankle injury, but his return for his first game since last Nov. 13 appears to be imminent. Although Kupp was listed as being limited in practice on the Rams’ official injury report, McVay corrected himself after reading the list during his news conference.
“He’s going to go through practice today and we’re going to see exactly what that looks like,” McVay said. “It says limited. He’s not going to be limited. I was like Ron Burgundy, just reading off the damn injury report. He’s going through a normal practice, so we’ll see how he’s feeling.”
Kupp won the NFL’s triple crown of receiving in 2021, catching 145 passes for 1,947 yards – the second-highest total in league history – and 16 touchdowns. He had 75 receptions for 812 yards and six TDs last season before his injury.
Kupp’s absence hasn’t been a crushing blow so far to the Rams, whose 1,229 yards passing are the second most in the NFL.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is having an outstanding season, and rookie Puka Nacua improbably has become one of the NFL’s most productive receivers in Kupp’s place. Tutu Atwell also has stepped up impressively in Kupp’s absence, catching 22 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Stafford is expected to play Sunday despite being slowed by a hip injury while leading the Rams to a 29-23 road victory over the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. McVay said the quarterback had “some good swelling” afterward, but will have a week of treatment and practice before facing the Eagles’ vaunted defense.
“He’s as tough as it gets,” McVay added. “We’re not going to be running a lot of zone read or anything like that today (in practice), so he’ll be in good shape. … He does such a great job of taking care of himself. I think feeling good would be a strong way to describe it, but he’s able to go through and be a full participant.”
Nacua leads the league with 39 catches, and his 501 yards receiving are second to Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson. His first career touchdown reception was the game-winner in overtime last Sunday.
Mathis, a sixth-round pick who played at TCU and Nebraska, injured his knee early in training camp. He could provide depth for the Rams at edge rusher, where rookie Byron Young and Michael Hoecht have played most of the snaps.
NOTES: RB Kyren Williams didn’t practice after taking “a good shot” to his hip while scoring his first touchdown last weekend at Indianapolis, McVay said. McVay expects Williams to play against the Eagles. … Starting LT Alaric Jackson and OL Joseph Noteboom both missed practice. Jackson (hamstring) missed last week’s game, while Noteboom is dealing with a hamstring injury. McVay didn’t speculate on whether either lineman would play Sunday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL