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After 'suit up,' Robert Woods and other Rams receivers ready to gear up

Preparing for his sixth NFL season, Rams receiver Robert Woods is staying busy this summer.

Individual workouts are on the schedule. He will also participate in informal sessions with teammates.

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But after helping the Rams achieve several notable milestones in 2017, Woods is preparing for one of his own before training camp opens late next month.

On July 7, Woods will wed Alexandra Barbee.

“Time to go suit up,” Woods said, chuckling, as he exited the field after the Rams’ final minicamp practice a few weeks ago.

Marriage is another major step for the 26-year-old Woods, a USC All-American who in 2017 signed a five-year, $34-million contract with the Rams after four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

“When I’m not training, I’ll probably be doing something involved with the wedding,” Woods said. “It’s fun. It’s something we’ve been planning for a long time.”

Woods caught 56 passes for a career-best 781 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games last season. He sat out three games because of a shoulder injury and was among starters held out of the regular-season finale so they would be physically sound for a wild-card playoff game.

Woods is expected to once again be the dean of a receiver corps that lost Sammy Watkins to free agency but gained Brandin Cooks in a trade.

Rams receiver Robert Woods (17) chats with cornerback Aqib Talib during a break in practice last month at Cal Lutheran University.
Rams receiver Robert Woods (17) chats with cornerback Aqib Talib during a break in practice last month at Cal Lutheran University. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Woods, Cooks and second-year pro Cooper Kupp will begin training camp as starters, with Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas and Josh Reynolds competing for playing time.

Cooks, 24, was acquired in a deal with the New England Patriots. The four-year veteran had more than 1,000 yards receiving twice in three seasons with the New Orleans Saints and also last season with the Patriots. He has 280 receptions, 27 for touchdowns, in his career.

Second-year coach Sean McVay, receivers coach Eric Yarber, passing game coordinator Shane Waldron and teammates raved about Cooks during organized-team activities and minicamp.

“He just elevates everyone around him in the facility, whether it’s the weight room, the film room or out here [on the field],” Kupp said.

Cooks embraced the opportunity to join a team that averaged a league-best 29.9 points last season. He is expected to add deep-threat capability that Watkins flashed but did not consistently provide in his only season with the Rams.

“Coming here from a distance, you knew this offense was special,” Cooks said. “You always wonder why. And now, you get here and you’re finding out all the reasons why that’s the case. It’s great to be able to come in here and have some freshness to it.

“It makes you want to learn more and become a better player.”

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Kupp, 25, steadily improved throughout his rookie season, bouncing back from several dropped passes and ascending into a starting role. He finished with 62 catches, five for touchdowns.

Kupp worked nearly nonstop before and during his final college season at Eastern Washington, in predraft preparation and during his first NFL season. He said he would “not do anything” for a short time after the conclusion of minicamp but would soon return to preparation “to fix the things I didn’t think were good enough” in 2017.

“There were a lot of things I really wanted to change,” he said, “and things that I was almost embarrassed where I was last year.

“You have to make strides to make sure those things are fixed coming into this year. Obviously, there are some good things that you can be proud of but never be content with.”

Woods also is seeking to build on his 2017 performance.

He helped the Rams win the NFC West for the first time since 2003 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

The Rams, he said, should be even better with a year of experience in McVay’s offense. They spent offseason workouts and minicamp refining it. That will continue when they begin training camp July 26.

“It’s how can we improve in other ways just to be ready for the season,” Woods said. “We’ve got it. We’re loaded up and just fine-tuning.”

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