Cooper Kupp is looking to add to his memorable season when Rams face Seahawks
In 2019, he amassed more than 1,000 yards receiving. Before last season, he signed a contract extension that guaranteed $35 million. This season, he has been named the NFC offensive player of the week several times.
And on Monday, in midst of a potentially historic season, Kupp was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald also was announced by the Rams as a Pro Bowl selection, extending his streak to eight consecutive seasons.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is expected to earn Pro Bowl recognition for the fifth time when NFC and AFC rosters are revealed Wednesday.
Kupp, Donald and Ramsey will be key players for the Rams (9-4) when they play the Seattle Seahawks (5-8) on Tuesday at SoFi Stadium. If the Rams win, they will move into a first-place tie with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
The game, originally scheduled for last Sunday, was postponed by the NFL because of a coronavirus outbreak that put nearly 30 Rams players on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Cooper Kupp were voted to the Pro Bowl, the team announced Monday.
Ramsey was in the first wave. He was placed on the list hours before the Rams played the Cardinals last Monday night. Ramsey came off the list on Sunday, joining receiver Odell Beckham Jr. among the starters who returned to the roster.
Offensive lineman Rob Havenstein, tight end Tyler Higbee, safety Jordan Fuller and linebacker Von Miller were other starters still out as of Monday, when the Rams announced the return of linebacker Troy Reeder, Bobby Evans and Tremayne Anchrum. Nearly 20 players — including those from the practice squad — remain on the list.
Also on Monday, the Rams announced that running backs coach Thomas Brown and offensive assistant Zak Kromer were not expected to be available for the game against the Seahawks.
The schedule change and other disruptions were “a tough thing,” but the Rams would endure, Kupp said.
“Everyone’s ready to adapt to that,” he said, “and be ready to go Tuesday night.”
Kupp, 28, grew up in Washington and played for Eastern Washington before the Rams selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.
With former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Kupp was productive. But experience, preparation and understanding of the offense has helped him go to a new level with Matthew Stafford.
Kupp leads the NFL with 113 receptions, 1,489 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches. He eclipsed 100 yards receiving in eight games and has amassed at least 92 yards in four others.
Kupp does “everything right,” said Stafford, who has passed for 33 touchdowns.
“He leads that receiver group in the right way,” he said, “so I pinch myself every day.”
With four games left in the first 17-game season in NFL history, Kupp is within reach of several records that were set in 16-game seasons. He needs 476 yards receiving to break Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 that was set in 2012 — with Stafford as his quarterback with the Detroit Lions. Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints holds the single-season reception record of 149, set in 2019.
Rams coach Sean McVay said part of what makes Kupp so effective was his ability to make split-second adjustments and create new plays.
“He’s really seeing things like a coach,” McVay said.
In a 26-17 victory over the Seahawks on Oct. 7, Kupp caught seven passes for 92 yards.
The chemistry between Kupp and Stafford is “off the charts,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
“They’ve become a real force,” Carroll said this week, adding, “That’s only grown throughout the course of the season.”
Asked to identify his favorite play this season, Kupp chose one that did not include himself in a prominent role — Stafford’s long touchdown pass to Van Jefferson in a season-opening victory over the Chicago Bears.
“A really cool play that was just kind of an electrifying moment,” Kupp said.
Roman Gabriel, who holds the Rams franchise record for TD passes, remembers the two times his North Carolina State Wolfpack came to L.A. to play UCLA.
Donald, who has a team-best 10 sacks, said he could not identify his favorite play by Kupp.
“I don’t think you can really pick or choose one play because there’s been so many big plays from him — catching the ball, to him making big blocks,” Donald said, adding, “so many different things consistently week in and week out to help us win games. I feel I’d do a disservice to pick one.”
First-year Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris evaluated Kupp before the 2017 draft. Morris said he gave Kupp a high grade but questioned his toughness on routes over the middle.
“I had to go to him and tell him how wrong I was,” Morris said, chuckling and adding, “I said, ‘I’m sorry. You’re the greatest. I love you.’ ”
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