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In short, receiver Josh Reynolds has gone long way to help Rams’ offense

Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, talks to wide receiver Josh Reynolds during practice.
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds, right, in the final year of his rookie contract, has had a career-best season in coach Sean McVay’s Rams offense.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
)

After the Rams traded speedy receiver Brandin Cooks during the offseason, coach Sean McVay said that Josh Reynolds could fill the void as the deep threat for the offense.

The lanky fourth-year pro was eager to showcase his skills in that role and others.

With five games left in the regular season, Reynolds is enjoying a career year. He has 38 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns.

Unexpectedly, Reynolds’ longest play covered only 40 yards for an offense that has hit one deep pass all season — a 56-yard strike from quarterback Jared Goff to receiver Robert Woods in an Oct. 11 victory over Washington.

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Reynolds, a fourth-round pick in 2017, said Thursday that had not become frustrating.

“Deep balls are something that every offense kind of needs as far being able to stretch the field and keep defenses honest and stuff,” he said during a videoconference with reporters before practice. “So we just haven’t been able to hit on any deep balls this past couple games.

“We’ve been working on ‘em , so I mean we definitely got ‘em loaded up in our back pockets. Whenever opportunity presents itself, we’re definitely taking ‘em.”

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The Rams (7-4) play the Arizona Cardinals (5-6) on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Given the way the Rams have dispatched the Cardinals in six consecutive victories — they have not scored fewer than 31 points against the Cardinals in the last three seasons — perhaps McVay will open up the playbook.

McVay said Reynolds has played well, and that the dearth of deep passes was not a result of Reynolds’ inability to get open.

“We’ve just got to keep trying to execute, pick and choose when those opportunities do present themselves,” McVay said after the Rams practiced at SoFi Stadium.

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Before the season, Goff said a goal was to have three 1,000-yard receivers. It appears the Rams will fall short.

Cooper Kupp has 66 catches for 763 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 69.4 yards receiving per game, so he is on pace to finish with 1,110 yards.

Woods has 61 receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 61.7 yards receiving per game, putting him on pace to finish with 987.5 yards.

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The 6-foot-3, 196-pound Reynolds, who never had more than 53 targets in a season, already has 60. On Nov. 15 against the Seattle Seahawks, he was targeted a career-high 10 times and caught a career-best eight passes.

“It’s awesome to be able to have more of a bigger role in the offense and stuff and help us win,” Reynolds said Thursday, “Even just moving the ball — that’s big for me.”

Reynolds, 25, enters Sunday with 99 career receptions, nine for touchdowns.

His future, however, is probably with another team.

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Before the season, the Rams signed Kupp to a large extension. After the first game, they did the same for Woods. Rookie Van Jefferson, a second-round pick, has made several clutch plays and has shown he is on track to contribute for years.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff hopes to turn his performance around against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

That will almost certainly leave Reynolds, in the final year of his rookie contract, looking for a larger role and salary from another team in 2021. So Reynolds has five games — and perhaps the playoffs — to showcase his skills.

Reynolds said he was focused on making the most of his opportunities and helping the Rams win.

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“There’s nothing further going on right now — offseason comes then I’ll worry about all that,” he said. “But as of right now the Rams are my team and I’ll do everything I can to help them win.”

Etc.

With the recent acquisition of end Derek Rivers and the expected return of outside linebacker Obo Okoronkwo (elbow), the Rams waived outside linebacker Jachai Polite. Polite played in 11 games and had four tackles, including a sack. If Polite clears waivers, the Rams would like to re-sign him to the practice squad, McVay said. ... Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day (hip) did not practice. “The hope and anticipation is that it won’t affect his game status,” McVay said. ... McVay said moving practice to SoFi Stadium because of winds in Thousand Oaks paid off. Asked if he could envision practicing at the stadium more often, he said he “definitely would not rule that out,” because of late-year windy conditions at the temporary facility. “It seems like ever since I’ve been here, whether it’s been the fires, the winds, our practice facility and the location is not conducive for getting work done towards the latter half of the year in terms of throwing and catching and things like that,” he said.


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