As the Rams try to put a horrible 2022 season behind them, two of their most important players are absent from the outset of Organized Team Activities.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and receiver Cooper Kupp are not present.
“They had some family stuff that they’re taking care of,” coach Sean McVay told reporters. “This has been consistent. We knew about this for a long time. These guys are engaged. Aaron was here for the first parts of [the offseason program], but this was always part of the plan to be able to be with his family a little bit and some of the things that he’s got to handle. And then hopefully sooner rather than later, Cooper and Anna will be expecting their third [child]. But those guys have done a great job communicating, staying engaged, and they know everything that’s going on, so [I] feel good about that dialogue that’s existed.”
McVay also was asked whether he believes Kupp will participate in all OTAs, once his child his born.
“I think we’ll just take that a day at a time,” McVay said. “Whenever he does come back, we’ll be smart with how we kind of onboard him and get him back up to speed. He’s the kind of guy, he’s doing a lot of stuff, keeping himself ready to go. But in his absence . . . you’re getting a lot of these younger guys or some of these guys to be able to establish a rapport with Matthew [Stafford]. We’re talking about whether it’s Van [Jefferson], whether it’s Tutu [Atwell], Puka [Nacua], Ben [Skowronek], guys are getting opportunities, with some of the new tight ends that we have, to just get a feel and for Matthew to be able to establish and develop a rapport that we didn’t get a chance to do last year and those are always chances to be able to improve. So those guys will be ready to go, I know that they’re doing the right stuff on their own and when they’re back with us, we’ll obviously be excited about that as well.”
It actually is a good think for Stafford to get comfortable throwing to receivers other than Cooper Kupp, given that Stafford sometimes seems to treat Kupp as a crutch.
It’s also good for Donald to not be there. As G.M. Les Snead told us years ago during a Donald holdout, it’s impossible to execute a walk-through practice with Donald around, because even in that setting he’s unstoppable and disruptive.