This time of year, no news is good news. While fans want to hear everything that comes out of Los Angeles Rams training camp, sometimes not hearing anything is the best thing. The early days of camp can be the most dangerous for players as they get back to putting their bodies through intense work. This is a time when non-contact and soft tissue injuries are at their highest risk.
The Detroit Lions already had a scare with C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Buffalo Bills running back, Nyheim Hines, tore his ACL in a jet ski accident. The Lions may have gotten lucky with Johnson, but this time of year teams have to hold their breath. It can be a difficult pill to swallow when you lose a player to injury before the season even starts.
Here are five players that the Rams can’t afford to lose to injury in training camp.
1. WR Cooper Kupp
The one player that the Rams absolutely cannot afford to lose to injury during training camp is Cooper Kupp. Kupp is arguably the most important player on the Rams offense outside of Matthew Stafford.
In past years, the Rams may have been able to get away with an injury at the top the wide receiver depth chart. That’s not the case this year. Behind Kupp, the Rams have Van Jefferson who has a lot to prove this year and then Ben Skowronek, TuTu Atwell, Demarcus Robinson, and Puka Nacua. Losing Kupp would be very difficult for the Rams offense to overcome.
2. QB Matthew Stafford
It’s pretty obvious that the Rams can’t lose their starting quarterback. While they did draft Stetson Bennett in the fourth-round, it would be unrealistic to expect that he would be ready to lead the team in the same way that Stafford can.
We saw how a Stafford injury in training camp can effect the offense last offseason. With Stafford unable to throw, receivers outside of Kupp were unable to develop a rapport with their starting quarterback. The Rams need a healthy Stafford as he remains the most important player on the roster.
3. LG Steve Avila
Any injury on the offensive line would be difficult. The Rams need to be able to develop some cohesion during training camp so that they can go into the season with a group that is familiar with each other. This is something that the Rams didn’t have last year at all during the season.
While any injury on the offensive line would be difficult, Steve Avila might be the one that would be felt the most. The Rams didn’t add a lot of high-impact talent this offseason. Avila is the exception to that as he was drafted 36th overall. Training camp will be an important time in Avila’s onboarding process and it’s crucial that he remains healthy.
4. LB Ernest Jones
Over the past few seasons, the Rams have largely ignored the linebacker position with last year’s signing of Bobby Wagner being the exception. The Rams have gone with replacement level players at the position and been able to get away with it. However, that might be different in 2023.
It might be harsh to call Jones replacement level, especially considering the talent behind him on the depth chart. Outside of Jones, the Rams have Jake Hummel and Christian Rozeboom. Hummel and Rozeboom may be in a rotation role, but they aren’t necessarily players that you ideally want taking a majority of the snaps. Jones will also be wearing the green dot and is a candidate to be a team captain. It’s critical that Jones stays healthy as he is the center of the Rams defense.
5. CB Cobie Durant
Durant is going to be asked to do a lot in the Rams defense this season. On the first day of training camp, Durant alluded to playing the “star” role in the Rams defense which is a position that holds a lot of responsibility in the secondary.
Outside of his importance in that role, the Rams also don’t have a lot of depth at cornerback. Akhello Witherspoon has some experience and upside, but Derion Kendrick, Robert Rochell, and others are very unproven. Aside from Donald, Durant may be the most important player on the Rams defense this season.