Despite injury, improving Odell Beckham Jr. could help heal Rams’ offense
Now that the first one is out of the way, Odell Beckham Jr. is ready for more.
Beckham caught a long touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford in the Rams’ defeat last Sunday at Green Bay. It was the star receiver’s first touchdown for the Rams — and his first since suffering a major knee injury while playing for the Cleveland Browns in October 2020.
“You see the smile,” Beckham said Friday when asked about the 54-yard scoring play. “Just kind of starting to find your rhythm and balance and be comfortable within this offense.”
Beckham, who signed with the Rams last month, is expected to play an increasingly larger role for a team that will try to end a three-game losing streak Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium.
Beckham suffered a hip injury during the 36-28 loss to the Packers and was limited in practice this week. Beckham will be listed as questionable for Sunday but is expected to play.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who will face his former team for the first time, says he is grateful for the time he spent growing with the Jaguars.
“I’m going to be all right,” he said. “I’ve been through worse.”
When the Rams agreed to terms with Beckham on Nov. 11, the three-time Pro Bowl selection was regarded as a luxury for coach Sean McVay — a high-profile complement to receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson. But later that day, the Rams discovered Woods had suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice.
Suddenly, Beckham was thrust into a starting role. With one day of preparation, he played 15 snaps and caught two passes for 18 yards in a 31-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
An open date followed the defeat, so Beckham spent the next two weeks learning parts of the offense and preparing for a return to Green Bay, where in 2016 he dropped several passes in a playoff loss while playing for the New York Giants.
Beckham said before the game that he wanted to create better memories at Lambeau Field, the scene of one of the worst games of his career.
Last Sunday, he played all but one of 62 offensive snaps and caught five passes for 81 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown that pulled the Rams within striking distance.
Matthew Stafford must play as the quarterback the Rams felt would lead them to the Super Bowl, writes columnist Dylan Hernández, not like Jared Goff, the guy they dumped.
“I won’t lie to you it felt great,” he said of the scoring play. “There was lot of thoughts as I was catching it, of what I wanted to do. It just wasn’t the time in the game.”
Stafford anticipates more big plays ahead.
“He’s an extremely talented player, you saw that on the long touchdown catch,” Stafford said. “He can still go by people and make catches and make great plays.
“So, we just got to continue to iron out all the details of the other stuff.”
McVay reiterated Beckham is smart and coachable.
“We just want to continue to just get him implemented,” McVay said. “Take advantage of the skill set, and the great traits that he has, and see how he can continue to help our offense.”
The Rams’ offense has not been the same since Woods’ injury. The loss of the ninth-year pro — a productive and experienced complement to Kupp, a selfless blocker and a versatile formation piece — has enabled opponents to focus attention on Kupp.
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Kupp still leads the NFL in targets, catches, yards and touchdowns. And Jefferson showed again against the Packers that he can be a deep threat by scoring a 79-yard pass play.
But the Rams need Beckham to show the form that made him such a dynamic threat during most of his five seasons with the Giants.
And they need Stafford to eliminate turnovers. In each of the losses to the Tennessee Titans, 49ers and Packers, Stafford committed two turnovers. Three interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
As they did against the Titans and the 49ers, the Rams fell behind early against the Packers, currently the second-seed for the NFC playoffs.
“Ultimately, we’re going to have to see them again,” Beckham said of the Packers. “So just got to keep preparing, keep getting better, got to get out of this funk and get back to winning.”
The Rams sorely need a win after three consecutive losses, and the Jacksonville Jaguars present the perfect opportunity for them to turn things around.
Beckham said he can help the Rams do that as he gets more acclimated and comfortable.
He is looking forward to playing again at SoFi Stadium.
On Oct. 10, Beckham caught two passes for 20 yards in the Browns’ 47-42 defeat to the Chargers.
“They say it gets much louder, and it’s a little better when its Rams fans there,” he said. “So, I’m excited about that and looking forward to the first game at home.”
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