As with Clayton Kershaw, Rams’ Matthew Stafford believes he can pitch in more
Early this week, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford headed to Dodger Stadium to watch former high school teammate Clayton Kershaw pitch for the Dodgers.
“It was cool to go see Clayton do his thing,” Stafford said Wednesday as the Rams began preparing for Sunday’s game at the Indianapolis Colts.
While Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, has shown Los Angeles fans his talent since 2008, Stafford is coming off an impressive L.A. debut in the Rams’ season-opening victory over the Chicago Bears.
Stafford, who played 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, completed 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards in the 34-14 victory, connecting with Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp on long touchdown plays and Robert Woods for a short touchdown.
Stafford’s 156.1 passer rating was just below the gold-standard 158.3.
“It was definitely a good, clean start,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Wednesday as his team began preparations for the Colts. “But I think he’d be the first to tell you that, ‘Hey, did a lot of really good things but … can do some things better as well.’ ”
Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw grew up playing sports together in Texas, but in high school they eventually played just football and baseball, respectively, after sharing gridiron and diamond time.
Stafford was mostly masterful against the Bears, efficiently identifying the best passing options even when under pressure. But he said there was room for improvement.
“Wish I was a little bit more, maybe a little bit calmer in the pocket on a few where I could have just kept progressing and getting to different guys and just finding the completion,” he said.
Stafford led a Rams offense that once again appears capable of consistently producing 30-point games, something that has been lacking since the 2018 season, when McVay guided the Rams to the Super Bowl in his second season.
McVay is expected to open the playbook even more Sunday against a Colts team that suffered a 28-16 season-opening defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.
That could mean more opportunities for Stafford to show off a right arm that probably would have made him a top pro baseball prospect had he not decided to concentrate on football.
At Highland Park High in Texas, Kershaw played center on the freshman football team before the left-hander opted to focus on baseball full time. In 2006, the Dodgers selected him with the seventh pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
Even as a sixth grader, and up through the ranks, Matthew Stafford’s hometown buddies in Texas realized the quarterback would be a star.
Stafford played shortstop in high school for a few seasons before focusing full time on football. He earned a scholarship to Georgia and was chosen No. 1 overall by the Lions in the 2009 draft.
At one time, Kershaw and Stafford were the highest-paid players in their sports.
Now they are both in Los Angeles.
“It was a whole lot of fun back then,” Stafford said of playing baseball with Kershaw. “And it’s even more fun watching him do it against the best in the world.”
Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (knee) did not practice. Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson (knee) was limited. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald (rest) participated in individual drills but did not practice. Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (rest) and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (rest) did not practice. ... Whitworth will donate $20,000 after each home game to help repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and to help Los Angeles citizens facing housing insecurity, the Rams announced. ... McVay said rookie Tutu Atwell is the Rams’ punt returner. Kupp fielded the Bears’ only punt in the opener because there was not a return opportunity, McVay said. In three seasons at Louisville, Atwell returned four punts.
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