Rams receiver Cooper Kupp ready to impress entering contract year
Climbing fences to find usable turf for workouts during a COVID-19 pandemic became part of his regimen.
“Getting kicked off just about every field here in Thousand Oaks, which was fun,” Kupp told reporters Friday during a video conference.
Kupp apparently got his work in. As he prepares for his fourth season, he said, “I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Kupp, 27, came back from 2018 knee surgery and caught a team-best 94 passes for 1,164 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. For the first time since the Rams selected him in the third round of the 2017 draft, league peers voted him among the NFL’s Top 100 players in an annual poll conducted by the NFL Network. Kupp was No. 89.
“Since he came back from his injury, he came back determined, very strong — stronger than before,” Rams receiver Robert Woods said. “This whole offseason, you’ve seen him grinding and putting in the work.”
Robert Woods has been playing about his pay grade, and the Rams wide receiver is feeling good and is “ready to get paid” with the season looming.
Kupp is one of several Rams players entering the final year of their rookie contracts. Others are star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, receiver Josh Reynolds, tight end Gerald Everett and safety John Johnson.
Ramsey is a three-time Pro Bowl player for whom the Rams traded two first-round draft picks last October. His situation is expected to be the Rams’ main contract focus going into the Sept. 13 opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
As a proven performer in coach Sean McVay’s offense, Kupp also warrants attention.
“Well, we haven’t had any conversations so far,” Kupp said when asked about his contract status, adding that he was letting his agent handle it.
“I love it here,” he said. “I don’t want to go anywhere.”
Kupp and quarterback Jared Goff are represented by the same firm that also counts Brandin Cooks as a client. In 2018, the Rams gave Cooks an $81-million extension that included $50 million in guarantees. Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans in March.
That leaves Kupp and Woods as established starters, with Reynolds stepping in for Cooks. The Rams drafted receiver Van Jefferson in the second round, and the rookie could find immediate playing time in a rotational role.
“I’ve been running routes with him a few times and just picked his brain and answer questions he had,” Kupp said. “I think he’s going to be a really great football player.”
Rams receivers could take on a larger role this season as McVay attempts fill the void left by the release of star running back Todd Gurley and the Cooks trade.
Rams’ Aaron Donald is getting accustomed to the new reality but urges all players need to do their part in order to have a season.
Kevin O’Connell was hired as offensive coordinator, and though it has only been a few days of training camp walk-throughs, Kupp said the new coach already has made an impression.
“Just the knowledge that he has and his willingness to share and talk through these things with you — I think he’s going to be just an incredible asset,” Kupp said.
The Rams have another week of training camp acclimation before they practice for the first time Aug. 18.
Players are navigating the COVID-19 protocols, Kupp said.
“It definitely took a day or two to adjust to it, just what the new normal is and just kind of embracing the weird of it,” he said. “Once we’ve kind of [did] that, you just say, ‘Well, this is the way it is.’ You just go and you just do it.
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