They were drafted to play immediately, not as projects to be developed.
The Rams selected Cooper Kupp in the third round of the 2017 draft and Josh Reynolds in the fourth, with the expectation that first-year coach Sean McVay could plug the rookie receivers right into his multidimensional offense.
As the Rams prepare to face the Chargers in Saturday’s third preseason game, the two newcomers have taken advantage of their opportunities.
Kupp, a four-year starter at Eastern Washington, is in the starting lineup. In last week’s 24-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders, he caught a game-best six passes, including a 23-yard touchdown from quarterback Jared Goff on the Rams’ first drive.
Reynolds, who played in college at Texas A&M, scored the game-winning touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Sean Mannion late in the fourth quarter.
The rookies have infused new life into a receiver corps that includes veterans Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins and the injured Tavon Austin.
Kupp said he was not surprised by his success.
“I expect myself on the field to perform and to perform well,” he said Monday.
Kupp, the all-time leader in receptions and touchdowns in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision, impressed coaches and teammates from the time he arrived at rookie camp.
Said veteran cornerback Trumaine Johnson: “I told him a week ago, rookie of the year, that should be his goal.”
Reynolds’ debut was delayed because of a quadriceps injury he suffered during the first week of training camp. He returned to practice early last week and put on a show in his first workout.
On Saturday, with the Rams trailing 21-17, the 6-foot-3 Reynolds lined up wide on the right side. He beat a defender in the end zone and hauled in Mannion’s pass.
“I made my move off the line, I looked up, and the ball was there,” he said after the game.
Reynolds reacted calmly, as if he had scored 100 touchdowns in the NFL.
“I actually didn’t even know I had scored,” he said, laughing. “I had to look at the ref first. I was expecting to hear some cheers, but I didn’t hear any so I was a little confused.
“That’s why the late reaction.”
Workouts were open to media last season and during training camp. But as is the practice of most NFL teams, the Rams have begun limiting access to about the first 20 minutes. … Linebacker Mark Barron and cornerback Kayvon Webster, who have not played in preseason games because of unspecified issues, participated in team drills Monday, McVay said. … Linebacker Robert Quinn was limited to individual drills, McVay said. Quinn, who has not played in the preseason, had back surgery in 2015 and hand surgery during the offseason. McVay described the way Quinn has been handled as “preventive maintenance.”
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