Van Jefferson absent from Rams practice, and coach Sean McVay unwilling to reveal why

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) participates in drills.
Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson participates in drills in training camp on Friday. Jefferson, who had knee surgery in the offseason, didn’t practice Saturday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Rams entered training camp with Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson and Van Jefferson slated as starting receivers.

That still could be the lineup when the defending Super Bowl champions open the season against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8 at SoFi Stadium.

But the immediate status of Jefferson, a third-year player coming back from offseason knee surgery, took a potentially ominous turn Saturday.


Jefferson did not attend practice at UC Irvine. Afterward, when asked for an update on Jefferson, Rams coach Sean McVay offered no details.

“We’re figuring that out right now, working through that,” McVay said. He then declined to share anything more.

The Rams drafted four defensive backs among their eight picks in the NFL draft with an eye to the future. Decobie Durant is the latest to raise eyebrows in training camp.

July 29, 2022

Asked if Jefferson’s absence was related to his surgically repaired knee, McVay again declined to elaborate.

“l’ll have more information for you later — like I said, I don’t have anything right now,” he said.

Last season, Jefferson played through a knee condition and caught 50 passes, six for touchdowns. He averaged 16 yards per catch.

Jefferson caught four passes in the Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.


In a best-case scenario, Jefferson would return to practice Sunday and be ready for the opener.

But his absence, and McVay’s unwillingness to discuss it, raised immediate questions about the Rams’ receiver depth.

Kupp is coming off a historic season. The reigning NFL offensive player of the year led the league in receptions, yards receiving and touchdown catches. A one-handed catch he made Saturday showed again that he is poised for another productive season with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Allen Robinson already was making some great catches in his first training camp with the Rams, but the star receiver also noticed the impressive play of rookie corner Derion Kendrick.

July 27, 2022

Robinson, an eight-year veteran, signed as a free agent. And throughout the first week of training camp, the former Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears standout displayed the skills that helped him post three 1,000-yard seasons. On Saturday, Robinson’s diving catch in the back of the end zone qualified as the play of the day.

“He went up and got it, great diving catch, strong hands,” Stafford said. “That’s what he’s about. That’s what’s going to help us put points on the board is making plays like that” inside the 20-yard line.

Without Jefferson, second-year pros Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell would be next on a depth chart that also includes converted tight end Jacob Harris and kick returner Brandon Powell.


Skowronek, a seventh-round draft pick, caught 11 passes last season. Atwell, a second-round pick, did not catch a pass. He played in eight games as a kick returner before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Harris played on special teams in nine games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Odell Beckham Jr., who is recovering from knee surgery after suffering an injury during the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI victory, remains a free agent.

Last season the Rams signed Beckham after the trade deadline, adding him to a receiving corps that included Kupp, Jefferson and Robert Woods. The day after Beckham signed, Woods suffered a season-ending knee injury on a non-contact play during practice.

Beckham stepped in and helped the Rams make their Super Bowl run. The Rams have remained in contact with Beckham — he attended their Super Bowl ring ceremony on the eve of training camp — but the three-time Pro Bowl player is not expected to be ready to play until midseason.

The Rams didn’t like game-planning against former Seahawk Bobby Wagner, but now the linebacker is on their side and already having an impact on teammates.

July 26, 2022

After trading Woods to the Tennessee Titans and then signing Robinson, McVay has been looking forward to unleashing a passing attack that featured Kupp, Robinson, Jefferson, tight end Tyler Higbee and running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson.

Jefferson did not participate in drills during organized-team activities in the spring. But he appeared fit during initial training camp practices.


Upon his arrival at camp, Jefferson said the Rams have the pieces for a more explosive offense.

“It’s definitely suited for that,” he said. “I think just going through training camp and the season, we’ll perfect it.”