As the Los Angeles Rams ramp up their second week of training camp, the team is dealing with a rash of injuries on both sides of the football.
Of course, Sean McVay and head trainer Reggie Scott usually are cautious in their approach to nursing players back to health - so they will manage the workload of each individual as a means to sustain performance over a long 17-game season (plus up to 4 playoff games).
And there’s no better person to be cautious with than your franchise quarterback. Matthew Stafford, who’s recovering from an offseason injection in his throwing arm and an offseason without throwing a football, is being watched closely. According to McVay, Stafford is experiencing some pain as he works his way back to full activities.
Stafford sitting out practice means John Wolford steps into the limelight, and it seems Wolford is firmly cemented as the primary backup at this point.
It’s a discussion for another time, but we didn’t see Wolford play in last year’s preseason and we probably won’t see him play in 2022. Unless Stafford misses time in the regular season - and no one wants to see that happen - it’s almost impossible to gauge what the Rams have in their backup quarterback.
Is Wolford providing a steady presence in practice, keeping the receivers productive without their star signal caller? Or could Wolford also be a contributor to an incredibly strong start by a young, unproven secondary - where it might be more of a story of weak quarterback play than sticky coverage?
These are questions we may not get the answers to for quite some time.
But then there are players dealing with more significant injuries - the type that have been or will be surgically repaired.
Sean McVay said rookie RB Kyren Williams (broken foot) is “a few weeks away” from being able to return as full-speed participant, but doesn’t expect the injury impact Williams’ availability for regular season. McVay said Bengals practice week is realistic timetable to shoot for.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 24, 2022
Kyren Williams broke his foot during offseason team activities, but he is expected to return by the conclusion of the preseason. It’s not realistic to expect him to contribute without participating in training camp, though the running back depth behind Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Jake Funk is lacking. Los Angeles recently waived Xavier Jones and signed Trey Ragas, formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders, so they seem to be mixing things up ahead of the three preseason games.
Jalen Ramsey played through injuries to both of his shoulders last season and into the Super Bowl, and he opted to have one of those shoulders surgically repaired just before the onset of training camp. Unlike Williams, Ramsey could realistically be ready for the season opening game in Week 1 without much in the way of preparation. His absence in practice may even be a positive - because it allows the young players in the secondary more opportunities with the starting defense: David Long, Jr., Robert Rochell, Decobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and slot/safety Russ Yeast.
And that brings us to the latest injury the team is dealing with - Van Jefferson’s knee issue.
Jefferson showed an immediate chemistry with Stafford at the start of last year, but his knee injury flared up and mitigated his production down the late-season stretch.
Similar to Ramsey, Jefferson probably doesn’t need much practice time to be ready for the regular season - should his recovery timeline even allow for that. His absence also allows more time with Stafford for Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, and Jacob Harris.
Even before Jefferson’s injury it seemed the WR#3 slot would be a rotational role between several individuals with vastly different skillsets, and this injury accelerates that process.
With Jefferson’s timeline for return in question, could his injury also accelerate the Rams’ reunion with veteran receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.?
While the injuries seem to be piling up for Los Angeles in training camp, each individual on the sideline seems primed for a comeback at some point this season. It could certainly be worse.
Here’s to a clean bill of health for each of these players, and may each temporary replacement make the most of their increased opportunities.