With Rams’ offense already ailing, Cooper Kupp is added to injury report
A Rams offense struggling to score touchdowns is not exactly rolling into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers with positive developments.
Star receiver Cooper Kupp is dealing with a foot injury. Running back Cam Akers, who coach Sean McVay requested more urgency from earlier this season, was absent from practice Thursday because of what was listed as personal reasons. And the injury-ravaged offensive line is trying to figure out how to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford and jump-start a league-worst rushing attack.
“Everyone here knows that we’ve got the right people that want to right the ship, want to go out there and win,” said Kupp, who was limited Thursday but is expected to play against the Panthers. “So, the preparation and process is going to be there.
“It’s just about making it come alive on game day.”
The offense is not alone in its struggles.
The defense has failed to force a turnover in three games. And star defensive lineman Aaron Donald also is dealing with a foot injury that prevented him from practicing Wednesday and Thursday but is not expected to keep him out against the Panthers.
The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners in NFL Week 6. The Eagles will still be perfect while the Rams and Chargers will win.
“We haven’t been executing and doing things that we need to do as a team — It’s just one of those years right now,” Donald, who has a team-best four sacks, said. “There is a lot of football left for us to get things corrected, get things fixed, and get back on track.’”
Kupp looked to be at full speed last Sunday when he caught a short pass from Safford and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown in the Rams’ 22-10 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium. Kupp said he suffered the injury a few plays before the touchdown.
“Obviously, I was able to play through the game,” he said. “It’s just managing it and getting it under control and feeling good about it going into” the game against the Panthers.
Kupp, the reigning NFL offensive player of the year, has picked up where he left off last season, when he led the league in catches, yards receiving and touchdown catches.
Kupp has a league-best 49 catches. His 527 yards receiving ranks second behind Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson. He is tied for third with four touchdown catches, and he also has rushed for a touchdown.
But the Rams are averaging just 16 points a game, which ranks 29th among 32 teams. They are 18th in passing offense and dead last in rushing.
Stafford has passed for five touchdowns, with seven interceptions, which is tied for the league worst. He has been sacked 21 times, including 12 times in the last two games against the San Francisco 49ers and Cowboys.
The Rams are averaging just 62.4 yards rushing per game. Akers has rushed for 151 yards and one touchdown. Darrell Henderson has rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Offensive coordinator Liam Coen was asked Thursday what he needs to see more of from the running backs,
“Creativity, right?” Coen said. “It’s not always going to be clean. It’s not always going to be a perfect wide, gaping hole.
Free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., still recovering from knee surgery, says he wants to rejoin the Rams but claims their contract offer is incredibly low.
“Running backs are special because they’re creative, right? ... Sometimes that stuff has to go out the window and guys need to go be play-makers and be special with the ball in their hands.
“But when we’re one-on-one and we have space, we need to take advantage of that. That’s also been a point of emphasis this week.”
One encouraging sign for the offense?
Second-year pro Tutu Atwell caught a 54-yard pass from Stafford against the Cowboys. It was Atwell’s first NFL reception — and it came a week after he was a healthy inactive against the 49ers.
“Just the start,” Atwell said. “More to come. I’m going to keep practicing my deep ball techniques, fundamentals and everything, and you’re to see some more of that.”
The Rams’ next opponent, the Carolina Panthers, have fired coach Matt Rhule. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is said to be out with a high ankle sprain.
Kupp and the Rams hope so.
“That’s the standard that Tutu should have,” said Kupp, who mentored and worked out with Atwell during the offseason. “Those are the kind of plays he can make and should be making week in and week out.”
Receiver/kick returner Brandon Powell (hip), cornerback David Long (groin) and safety Taylor Rapp (ribs) were full participants in practice, per the Rams injury report. Long was sidelined the last three games. Rapp sat out against the Cowboys. Tight end Tyler Higbee (ankle) and cornerback Cobie Durant (hamstring) were limited. ... Tight end Brycen Hopkins is back after serving a three-game suspension. for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse.
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