Elbow issue forces Rams’ Matthew Stafford to mentally prepare

Hundreds of times he eyed the defenses at the line of scrimmage. Countless snapshots taken. Dropped back, planting his feet and moving his hips as if preparing to throw a pass.

And though Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed two months of offseason practice without throwing the ball once, he said Wednesday he’s ready when the defending Super Bowl champion reports for training camp in July.

“I still have a lot to do physically just getting ready to start and I feel like I’m going into camp in top position to go out there and play at a high level,” said Stafford.

Shortly after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Stafford received an injection to treat right elbow pain that plagued him throughout the season.

The rehabilitation program that kept Stafford from throwing passes — coupled with a shortened offseason due to the Super Bowl run — were factors in coach Sean McVay’s decision to essentially do jog-throughs and a mini-camp during off-season practice sessions, that will end on Thursday with a team meeting.

During 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, Stafford experienced periods of inactivity due to injuries. Mental repetition is valuable, he said, but apparently not enough for a quarterback who has rushed for nearly 50,000 career yards during the regular season.

“There’s a lot to gain,” he said of mental replays. “It’s just less fun for me when I can’t do what I love to do, which is throw the ball.”

Last season, Stafford passed 41 touchdowns with 17 interceptions in the regular season. In four postseason wins, he had nine touchdowns with three interceptions.

Stafford scored a last-minute win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC divisional round win. In the 23-20 Super Bowl win over the Bengals, he completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

Stafford’s touchdown pass to receiver Cooper Kupp with 1 minute and 25 seconds remaining proved the crucial point.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford signals as running back Cam Akers (3) listens to coach Sean McVay.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford signals as running back Cam Akers (3) listens to coach Sean McVay.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Rams will go to training camp with a receiving corps that includes Kupp — NFL Offensive Player of the Year — new signing Allen Robinson, third-year pro Van Jefferson and sophomores Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek. Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent.

Stafford said he was good at communicating with Robinson and looks forward to tossing passes to him and other teammates during summer practice ahead of training camp.

“It’s the great thing about being in Southern California — everyone wants to be here anyway,” he said. “It’s going to be great to get out there and work with some of these guys while I kind of prepare for it.”

The goal is to be ready for training camp to begin at UC Irvine in late July when the Rams begin preparations for their opening game on September 8 against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.

“I’m just trying to make sure we’re smart but at the same time as ready as I can be on day one when we’re out there throwing the ball around,” he said.

McVay isn’t concerned that Stafford didn’t throw any passes during practice and offseason minicamp.

“He coached the guys and did a great job of being able to observe,” McVay said.

New offense coordinator Liam Coen said he was looking forward to seeing Stafford perform in a regular training environment.

“But it was really good to get to know him a little bit on the side when he’s not doing those reps,” Coen said. “I was able to kind of see things through his lens … and talk through some concepts.”

Etc.

The Rams relinquished inside linebacker Travin Howard, a 2018 seventh-round draft pick who survived several injury-plagued seasons, to add to the Rams’ Super Bowl run. Howard intercepted passes in a win over the Minnesota Vikings and in the NFL championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. Howard was expected to carry a $2.5 million salary cap this season, according to overthecap.com.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-06-08/elbow-issue-rams-matthew-stafford-no-throwing Elbow issue forces Rams’ Matthew Stafford to mentally prepare

Emma Bowman

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