The Los Angeles Rams put on pads for practice for the first time on Monday. Well, at least most of them did. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a planned rest day, according to head coach Sean McVay, and was working with the other quarterbacks on the field but not actively participating or in pads. McVay says that Stafford is preparing to be a full-go at practice on Tuesday and there’s nothing to be concerned about with regards to having a rest day.
Wide receiver Van Jefferson also had a rest day.
Rams QB Matthew Stafford has a vet rest day today, but is still as involved as he can be in today’s training camp practice. A couple clips of him coaching up the younger QBs during individual drills pic.twitter.com/W5PzEygQqZ— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 31, 2023
Matthew Stafford was given a scheduled rest day, coach Sean McVay said. Stafford was on the field providing feedback to QBs and talking with McVay and OC Mike LaFleur. Van Jefferson also got rest day, per McVay. CB Derion Kendrick (hamstring) has sat out last two practices.— Gary Klein (@LATimesklein) August 1, 2023
There’s no reason to criticize the Rams for giving Stafford a rest day. It could be perfectly normal for a quarterback at this stage of his career and if there’s nothing afoot that it is reasonable to believe that Stafford is excited to be a full participant with his teammates on Tuesday.
It’s just a little surprising for Stafford given the long vacation and the excitement over putting on pads for the first time all year, but it’s a lot surprising for Jefferson.
Fine, it’s nothing to be worried about. But Jefferson is not an established starting NFL wide receiver yet and the more reps he gets in training camp, the brighter the future for L.A.’s receiving corps around Cooper Kupp in 2023. Would the Rams consider moving Jefferson or Tutu Atwell if it turns out that they really like some of the new options, like Puka Nacua and Demarcus Robinson?
At this stage, anything is possible.
Derion Kendrick not just resting
The second-year cornerback is out and not resting. Kendrick has a hamstring injury and has missed the last two practices. That position may have the most to figure out over the next month. Cobie Durant is in the lead to be the “Star” replacement for Jalen Ramsey, while Ahkello Witherspoon has impressed coaches in the early going even though he’s also wearing a brace on an injured hand already.
Kendrick is battling the likes of Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Robert Rochell, and Shaun Jolly for playing time. Undrafted free agent Tyon Davis made a play on Monday as well.
Rams DB Tyon Davis with a forced fumble Peanut Punch style, knocking the ball loose from RB Zach Evans, with OLB Daniel Hardy scooping it up. Big cheers from the defense after that play— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 1, 2023
Rookie edge Ochaun Mathis left practice favoring his left leg, according to reports.
Tyon Davis’s gain is Zach Evans fail
For Davis to get a forced fumble that means that rookie sixth round pick Zach Evans had to lose the ball. The team welcomed Royce Freeman to practice on Monday and he’ll be competing to backup Cam Akers this season after Sony Michel decided to retire.
Newly-signed Rams RB Royce Freeman is here pic.twitter.com/aTvhL0B8T5— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 31, 2023
No obvious lead between Stetson Bennett, Brett Rypien
But Cooper Kupp can still play:
That’s a Top play right there. pic.twitter.com/LCB65LYgel— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 1, 2023
It’s easy to assume that the Rams want their fourth round rookie to take hold of the backup job, but we’ll need preseason action before knowing whether he or Rypien are going to be the safest bet as Stafford insurance. If McVay holds out Stetson Bennett from preseason because he wants to protect him like he did in the past with John Wolford, that seems like a disservice to the rookie out of Georgia.
Let some of these guys get their feet wet before the games actually matter.
Demarcus Robinson would be a shocking cut from the roster
When the Rams signed Robinson, it was both their biggest free agent move of the entire offseason and met with yawns. After all, Robinson’s status going into 2023 pales in comparison to Allen Robinson in 2022 or Odell Beckham Jr in 2021 or Brandin Cooks in 2018 or Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in 2017.
But through the first week of camp, Demarcus Robinson is the best receiver on the field who isn’t Cooper Kupp.
That type of play for another month could lead to an exit for one of L.A.’s other receivers, someone who thought he was a shoo-in going into training camp.