The Los Angeles Rams have ruled out wide receiver Van Jefferson for Week 1’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, an expected move after the third-year player missed most of training camp with a knee injury. The move opens the door for Ben Skowronek to prove his value at a time when there's been so much of a focus on L.A.’s other wideouts.
With such an influx of amazing receiver talent to enter the NFL in the last few years, it is easy forget that Skowronek is already a bit of a steal. Not all seventh round picks make a final roster at all, let alone being penned in as a part of the 53 entering their second training camp. But Skowronek’s 14 games played in 2021 were actually the second-most of any day three rookie wideouts last season (fourth rounders Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tylan Wallace played in all 17) and the best ability is availability.
Of course, that was because of his special teams abilities, but Skowronek was also one of the few day three rookies to be a part of his team’s passing plan at all, catching 11 passes for 133 yards as a rookie.
Come playoff time, Skowronek was only targeted one time in the first three games. But an ACL tear for Odell Beckham Jr meant that he would see five targets from Matthew Stafford in the Super Bowl and now a knee injury for Jefferson gives Skowronek an inside edge towards essentially starting against the Bills on Thursday.
While we should expect appearances from Tutu Atwell too too as well, Skowronek has surprisingly moved his way up the depth chart relatively quickly and may make more sense as Jefferson’s immediate fill-in. That’s not really a role meant for Atwell.
Whether Skowronek will have better hands than we saw during his rookie campaign is something we won’t find out until the games begin.