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Is Van Jefferson ready to step into this role for the L.A. Rams?

Van Jefferson had a great weekend practice, connection with Stafford is growing amid a contract season

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

One of the most contentious personnel groups of the Los Angeles Rams this offseason is their young, mostly unproven, wide receiver group. Many of the questions have been focused on if LA has enough behind their perennial All-Pro Cooper Kupp to support Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense.

One of the players being depended on most is fourth year player Van Jefferson, who Los Angeles selected out of Florida in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, but he hasn’t quite lived up to his billing yet. Given that there’s little else standing in his way now, will Jefferson become the star receiver that the Rams need?

Fans are familiar with Jefferson, and while he has had some stand out moments with the team, his first three years can mostly be described as inconsistent. Unfortunately, one of the most consistent parts of Jefferson’s career thus far has been his time missed due to injuries, included not being able to participate in most of the 2022 offseason after knee surgery.

This season is a different story with Jefferson a full participate of training camp, minus a rest day he was given last week. The extra time on the field seems to have helped grow his and Stafford’s connection, after the duo was unable to throw much together going into last season.

In Saturday’s practice, Jefferson looked sharp, snatching an over-the-shoulder grab from Stafford deep on the right sideline with little space for error along the sidelines. He came back again for another deep touchdown pass, celebrating by flipping the ball to some fans in the crowd.

Stafford seems pleased that he’s been able to get some extra work in with Jefferson this offseason saying:

“He and I got a bunch of work. He was in town quite a bit this offseason as well, so I was able to work with him after that OTA period kind of ended. I got a bunch of work with a lot of the guys, but it’s great to have Van back out here running around, flying around, making plays.”

While Jefferson was somewhat criticized for taking a rest day Friday, he came back strong with his Saturday performance, and given his injury history, it’s possible the Rams are just trying to temper any chance of potential lingering issues with Jefferson’s surgically repaired knee, especially considering he tweak the injury last year in training camp.

Former wide receiver Allen Robinson was not an upgrade last year like many expected and he was shipped off to Pittsburgh, however he has been said to be having a good training camp so far. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Robinson’s lack of production in 2022 showed how stagnant the offense can be with no additional help opposite of Kupp.

Jefferson is in a contract year and would need to have a high caliber season as LA’s number two wide receiver if he has any hopes to have an extension offered his way.

If the extra time with Stafford can translate to the field, he may finally develop into the number two guy the Rams have been searching for since the losses of Odell Beckham Jr. and Robert Woods. If not, training camp darling TuTu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua, as well as veteran Demarcus Robinson, could be chomping at the bit to replace Jefferson on the field.

If he doesn’t step up for the Rams now, he could be better off with a different team in the future.