The Rams have made it clear that quarterback Matthew Stafford has “no limitations” for Week One, due to a chronic elbow problem. The real question is whether limitations will arise in Week Two or thereafter.
There’s an issue with the elbow. That’s undisputed. When talking about it with reporters recently, Stafford deliberately stopped short when he said, “[I] still think there’s. . . . I don’t know.”
Here’s what he know. He had a procedure in the offseason on the elbow. He wore a brace after getting the injection to reduce inflammation in his elbow.
For some reason, that old news has been repackaged and presented as new news on Thursday morning.
“Rams QB Matthew Stafford underwent an off-season elbow procedure to deal with the pain he experienced last season and to help prepare for this season, per sources,” tweeted Schefty. “Despite the questions about his elbow, Stafford is now said to feel better today than he did at this time last year.”
It’s unclear whether this is a not-so-uncommon quota-filling misfire by Schefter or part of a quid-pro-quo effort to affirmatively spread the team’s Serenity Now message about Stafford as the season arrives.
There’s still reason for concern. The Rams held Stafford out of team drills in multiple practices last month, as they tried to come up with a way to figure out what they determined to be a baseball injury. Eventually, he was able to fully participate in practices. He’s now ready to play in a game. What happens tomorrow, when he rolls out of bed and his elbow is or isn’t throbbing from making 20 or 30 or 40 or more throws that put the kind of pressure on the elbow that he hasn’t since February?
Consider the last part of Schefter’s tweet. “Stafford is now said to feel better today than he did at this time last year.” That does not mean he’s 100 percent. It just means he’s better now than he was a year ago, after going through training camp without extensive time away from team drills to protect the elbow.
Even though the Rams insist there are no limitations, it’s fair to wonder whether they are strategically concealing the truth (i.e., lying) so that the Bills aren’t ready tonight for, say, a run-heavy attack that protects Stafford’s elbow and keeps Buffalo’s high-powered offense on the sidelines.
Whatever the explanation, the fact remains that it’s been known for months that there’s an issue with the elbow. And it seems that the issue is still there. One of the biggest questions hovering over the Rams for the 2022 season is whether Stafford will be able to play effectively through whatever discomfort he may experience from Week One through Week 18, and beyond.