Rams’ Cooper Kupp shows Saints he caught up in return from knee injury

Cooper Kupp runs for extra yardage after a catch against the Saints.
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp picks up big yards after a reception against the Saints in the second quarter.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

If there was any doubt, Rams receiver Cooper Kupp showed Sunday there are no lingering effects from the knee injury that ended his 2018 season.

Kupp caught five passes for 120 yards, including a 66-yard play during which he broke five tackles, in the Rams’ 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum.

Kupp had played well in the Rams season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers, catching seven passes, but none for more than 10 yards. He took it up a level against the Saints.


Kupp said he recalled fellow receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks making key blocks on his long play in the fourth quarter, which set up a one-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Jared Goff.

“I think that’s just a testament to the team we have, the camaraderie we have,” Kupp said.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he has gotten X-rays and will be meeting with a hand specialist in Los Angeles to determine the severity of his thumb injury.

Goff said he and Kupp “think intuitively” with each other.

“What’s the word? Telepathy,” Goff said, laughing. “I don’t know if it’s quite that far, but we are on the same page right now as well as the other receivers.”

Deep thoughts

It didn’t have the payoff of a touchdown, but one of the biggest plays of the game came on the Rams’ first possession, when Goff connected with Cooks for a 57-yard gain on a third-and-16 play.

“Those are fun,” Goff said of the second-longest play of the game, topped only by the Kupp catch and carry. “It was a good play, something we talked about throughout the week, just taking a shot early.

“We were able to catch one of their guys flat-footed, and Brandin did the rest. Just laid one out there for him, and he made a good play.”

Another big play

Rams safety John Johnson intercepted a pass in overtime in last season’s NFC Championship game against the Saints, a play he made while falling onto his back. He made another acrobatic interception Sunday in the first quarter after he and safety Eric Weddle hit Saints tight end Jared Cook.

“I might have been on my side this time,” Johnson said, laughing.

Johnson said he tried to tackle Cook low as Weddle hit him high.

“It jarred the ball loose, and once we all hit the ground, I kind of saw he didn’t have control of it,” Johnson said.

The Rams beat the Saints 27-9 in a rematch of last year’s NFC championship game after Saints Drew Brees sustains an injury to his throwing hand.

Johnson kept his eyes on the ball.

“I’m like, ‘Look this ball ain’t hit the ground yet — that’s a live ball.” Johnson said. “Whether it’s a fumble recovery or a pick, I just took it.”

Blythe, Higbee injured

Starting right guard Austin Blythe left the locker room on crutches after suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter. Jamil Demby replaced Blythe.

“He had one play he’d like to have back, other than that, he did a great job,” Goff said.

Tight end Tyler Higbee left the game because of a chest bruise, McVay said.

Busy week

Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was the focus of attention this week because of his role in the controversial non-call in last season’s NFC title game.

Robey-Coleman was featured in a celebratory photo on the cover of the game program, delivered inspired words to teammates before they left the field after warm-ups, and led the team out of the tunnel and onto the field for the start of the game.

He finished with six tackles.

“What a week,” he said.


Before the game, the Saints announced that coach Sean Payton signed an extension through the 2024 season. Terms were not disclosed but Payton had been earning about $9 million per year in a contract that was due to expire after the 2020 season.

Associated Press contributed to this report.