Rams’ Cooper Kupp has ‘setback’ in hamstring injury recovery, Sean McVay says

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Los Angeles Rams star receiver Cooper Kupp suffered a “setback” in his recovery from a hamstring injury, coach Sean McVay announced Thursday.

Kupp hurt his hamstring a few days into training camp earlier this month. Last week he returned to practice, including joint practices in Denver against the Broncos.

“He got a little muscle strain,” McVay said. “So we’re kind of taking it day by day with him. …I would probably call it a setback, I think it’s fair to say.”

Kupp, 30, also suffered a season-ending ankle sprain last year that required surgery. He missed spring OTAs, but said that was because he was spending time with his wife Anna as they welcomed a new baby. Kupp began training camp normally but pulled up during individual red zone drills after feeling a “tug” in his hamstring.

He is quarterback Matthew Stafford’s favorite receiving target, accounting for over 1/3 of the Rams’ target share in 2022 before his ankle injury.

“I think we just take it a day at a time right now, we’ll see,” McVay said. “We want to be able to get him back right. We’re obviously a much better team when he’s available.”

The Rams overhauled most of their defense (minus future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald) this offseason, but Donald, Kupp and Stafford were referred to by management as “weight-bearing walls,” significant to Los Angeles’ potential competitiveness at least on offense, despite their partial rebuild. If they are without Kupp into the start of the season, that offense suffers a major blow.

Soft-tissue injuries can be fickle. McVay declined to say whether he believed Kupp would be available for the season opener on Sept. 10 in Seattle.

“It’s just tricky,” McVay said, “there’s a difference between ‘return to play’ and ‘return to performance’. We want ‘return to performance’ for Cooper Kupp, and we know how special of a player, how special of a person he is. We want to make sure that we’re smart with that and getting him back to feeling like the Cooper Kupp that we all know — and that he is able to play the way he is capable of, whenever that is. Whether that’s Sept. 10 or not, we’ll continue to monitor that and control what we can control.”

Without Kupp, Van Jefferson would step into the No. 1 receiver role, while Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua would become Nos. 2 and 3. Depth receiver Ben Skowronek would likely play more on special teams this season than in the offense. But if Kupp is absent into the season, Skowronek knows each receiving position as well.

McVay also praised veteran receiver Demarcus Robinson, who had a strong camp and made the team’s initial 53-man roster.

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(Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today)

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