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Rest assured, Rams will have DeSean Jackson ready to play in season opener

IRVINE, CA - JULY 28, 2021: Rams new wide receiver DeSean Jackson (1) pulls in a pass.
Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson pulls in a pass on the first day of training camp at UC Irvine on July 28.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The season opener against the Chicago Bears is nearly three weeks away. So the Rams have adopted a conservative approach with several key players, perhaps most notably receiver DeSean Jackson.

Jackson, 34, has been one of the NFL’s premier deep threats for more than a decade. In the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, however, injuries limited the former Long Beach Poly High star to a combined eight games.

The Rams signed Jackson to fill what was a gigantic hole in the offense last season, when the Rams’ only long touchdown pass play covered 56 yards.

A day after what coach Sean McVay described as a “veteran’s day off,” Jackson was on the field Tuesday. However, he did not participate in full-team drills.

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McVay said it was all part of a plan to make sure Jackson is in top form for Sept. 12 against the Bears on “Sunday Night Football.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford figures to improve each week even minus preseason games, but they still need to address running game first.

“We’ve got him on a very specific strategic schedule leading into the 12th,” McVay said.

Based on?

“Speed guy at 34 years old,” McVay said, adding that Jackson knows his body and that the veteran worked in collaboration with team training personnel to devise a plan.

With Jackson sitting out, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson took first-team snaps. Rookie Tutu Atwell also had opportunities.

Running back Darrell Henderson allayed some concerns by practicing the day after suffering a left thumb sprain.

With Cam Akers sidelined for the season because of an Achilles injury, Henderson is projected as the starter. But after Henderson’s first two seasons ended prematurely because of ankle surgeries, his durability is a question mark.

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By practicing Tuesday, Henderson showed he could bounce back.

“If you can push it in a way that’s reflective of not making the injury any worse, that’s something that we wanted to do,” McVay said. “You don’t ever want to pigeonhole yourself into a one-size-fits-all approach, but with Darrell, I think it is important to get him out here.”

Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, a third-round pick in 2020, practiced Tuesday for the first time in several weeks. Lewis has been hampered by a knee issue since his arrival last year.

The Rams waive quarterback Devlin Hodges, running back Raymond Calais and defensive back Paris Ford. For now, Bryce Perkins is the No. 3 quarterback.

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“The hope for him is that he can contribute and help us on some of these run downs first and then, hopefully, develop into some type of pass rusher that he has been,” defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said, adding, “I’m really fired up where he can go. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do when he gets back fully healthy and ready to go.”

Practice observations

*Punter Corey Bojorquez was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and tight end Kyle Markway was waived, putting the roster at 80 players. Teams must cut to 53 players by Aug. 31. Punter Johnny Hekker remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

*Outside linebacker Obo Okoronkwo did not practice because of a shoulder/neck issue he was “getting checked out,” McVay said.

*Edge rusher Leonard Floyd (ankle) did not practice.

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*Safety Taylor Rapp intercepted a pass by backup quarterback John Wolford during full-team drills.

*Kupp made an impressive catch on a pass from Matthew Stafford with Rapp in tight coverage. Woods also made a difficult catch, extending his body to grab a pass inches above the turf.


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