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As Cooper Kupp rests, Rams will increase repetitions for rookie Van Jefferson

Rams rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson runs during a practice drill in Thousand Oaks.
Rams rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson runs during a practice drill in Thousand Oaks on Aug. 27.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Sept. 13 opener against the Dallas Cowboys is less than two weeks away, so Rams coach Sean McVay is playing it safe with multiple players nursing injuries, including wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

McVay said Monday that Kupp was removed from Saturday’s mock game at SoFI Stadium because of lower leg soreness, a condition that had been present throughout the previous week.

“There was a specific play in which he communicated that he was feeling it, so we wanted to be cautious with him,” McVay said, adding that X-rays were negative. “We are going to monitor him, but he is feeling good. ... The goal is to make sure that he’s as healthy as possible for the 13th.”

With Kupp expected to be sidelined for workouts, rookie Van Jefferson will step into Kupp’s spot this week.

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Jefferson, a second-round draft pick from Florida, has impressed throughout training camp.

“It’s little things every day,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “Making plays, making catches, running great routes, strong hands.”

John Wolford has no NFL regular-season snaps, but he believes in his skills and says he’ll be ready to go if Jared Goff’s streak of good fortune ends.

During a scrimmage Aug. 22 at SoFi Stadium, Jefferson made several impressive catches, including one for a touchdown on a pass from backup quarterback John Wolford in the back of the end zone. In Saturday’s mock game at the stadium, he made an over-the-shoulder catch along the sideline on a pass from Goff.

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Running back Darrell Henderson probably will remain sidelined this week as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the first scrimmage, McVay said.

Henderson had been on track to be part of a running back rotation with Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers. McVay would not rule him out for the opener.

“We’ve still got some time,” McVay said. “With the maturation I’ve seen from him — maybe if it was his rookie year, you’d say you wouldn’t feel as great about it. But I think his grasp of the offense and his ownership and the growth he’s demonstrated when he has been able to practice, I feel better about that.

“So I certainly would not rule him out, and we’re expecting him to be a big part of our running back rotation this year.”

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Rams coach Sean McVay knows what he has in running backs coach Thomas Brown, who he has known since high school.

Two defensive players who were in line to start also are dealing with injuries.

Inside linebacker Travin Howard did not play in the mock game because of a knee injury. McVay was vague about Howard’s status.

“We’ll have some further updates,” he said. “In an instance if we’re not able to have him, it does look like you’d feel really good about” other inside linebackers such as Micah Kiser, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder.

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McVay said safety Taylor Rapp is expected to practice after sitting out the last few weeks because of a knee injury.

“It’s a shame because just right when you felt like he was doing such a great job and really getting a good grasp of some of the newer things we were doing, he had that setback,” McVay said.

Rookies Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller have been practicing in Rapp’s spot.

Etc.

The Rams did not practice Monday, but they will Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Rosters must be trimmed from 80 to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Practice squads have been expanded to 16 players. ... McVay said the kicking competition with Lirim Hajrullahu, Austin MacGinnis and Sam Sloman would continue until the final practice.


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