Coach Sean McVay says Matthew Stafford's continuing elbow pain is unusual for a football player, and the Los Angeles Rams are trying to determine whether it will hamper their starting quarterback in the regular season.
Stafford has been throwing in individual drills and 7-on-7 setups while skipping the full-team portions of the defending Super Bowl champions' training camp practices at UC Irvine. Stafford had an unspecified injection in his elbow during the offseason, and he reported feeling ongoing pain in the joint last month after not doing any serious throwing in the Rams' offseason program.
“It’s a little bit abnormal for a quarterback,” McVay said Thursday. “Some of this stuff is things that MLB pitchers deal with, so it is something that we’re kind of learning about on the fly with his feedback.”
McVay stressed that Stafford could do more in practice and probably could play in a game this week, but the Rams are trying to figure out how to keep him healthy throughout their season.
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“Want to try to have him operate in as little pain as possible,” McVay said. “I think anytime that you’ve played as long and are as tough as he is, I don’t know if you’re ever truly pain-free, but the goal would be for Sept. 8, and really looking toward 17 games, then hopefully some games after that, if we earn that opportunity. That’s kind of the perspective and the big-picture approach that we want to be able to take. I don’t know that I would feel as comfortable taking that approach if it wasn’t for the experience that he’s accumulated.”
McVay said the Rams are trying a “modified approach and a progressive rebuild” with Stafford, who played through unspecified pain last season in his wildly successful West Coast debut. The veteran quarterback passed for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns last season before leading Los Angeles to four consecutive playoff victories and its first Super Bowl title since returning home from St. Louis.
Stafford's injury gives him less time to get in synch with new receiver Allen Robinson, but they are spending extra time studying film with Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp to build their chemistry for the season.
“He’s our leader, so whatever he sees, whatever he feels, what he wants from the quarterback spot, we make sure that we're getting those things done,” Robinson said.
McVay also said tight end Jacob Harris will be out for “maybe a couple of weeks” with a groin strain. Harris didn't make a catch last season as a rookie fourth-round pick.