Matthew Stafford back slinging passes and title talk for Rams

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been busy since he and his teammates lifted the Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl LVI winners.

Before the last drops of champagne dried, Stafford signed a four-year contract extension guaranteeing $120 million. He also became the star of a clever AT&T commercial, which ends with him acknowledging the 12 years he spent in Detroit with a wink and a subtle nod before the Rams acquired him from the Lions in January 2021.

He capped off his eventful offseason with a surprise debut on Instagram. A photo of him wearing the Rams’ huge and glittering championship ring surfaced a few days ago on an account with his name and a blue verification tick, causing a stir for long avoiding engaging with social media.

It was a big deal. A deal almost as big as the fact that on Sunday, the opening day of Rams training camp at UC Irvine, Stafford threw for the first time since receiving an anti-inflammatory injection in his right arm shortly after the Super Bowl.

He was happier with his throw than his social media venture.

“Listen, I have no idea. I have no idea,” an embarrassed Stafford said of the Instagram post, which featured the ring but cut out his wife Kelly. “You can ask me any football questions you want. Don’t ask me about it.”

As for the football part, he said everything went well on Sunday with his arm, which had been bugging him during the Rams’ march to the championship. He threw smoothly, confidently, regaining his timing and footing and shaking off the rust that had accumulated from not throwing during minicamp or off-season practice.

His activities were encouraging to teammates as they embarked on another long journey that will hopefully end with yet another diamond-studded championship ring not to be worn.

“I knew he was going to be great,” said defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who hinted at his retirement before his contract was restructured in June to make him the highest-paid non-quarterback player in NFL history. “He’s a tough guy. I knew he would be ready.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stops by at training camp on Sunday.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stops by at training camp on Sunday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Stafford immediately threw himself into the task at hand. Reestablishing his ties with wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee, he began catching up on wide receiver Allen Robinson, who was making some standout sideline grabs and others in traffic, earning his reputation as one of the NFLs has been best receivers in competitive catching situations.

Robinson, who signed with the Rams as a free agent, and Kupp give the Rams versatility and quality options. Coach Sean McVay called Robinson “a pro pro,” a compliment Stafford supported.

“Allen is a really smart player,” said Stafford, who was involved with Robinson and became a fan while Robinson played for the Chicago Bears and Stafford for the Lions. “I was really impressed by his ability to not only capture our Xs and Oss and lines on a piece of paper, but also the nuanced things of what we’re trying to achieve with each piece. When you have people who can think like that and play like that, it makes my job a lot easier.”

Stafford will be on a pitch count throughout camp, as McVay put it, although McVay said that didn’t stop Stafford from doing anything on Sunday. Stafford said there is a daily plan for him to build his arm strength, but he hopes it’s fluid and conceded he might chafe if he’s feeling too restricted.

“It’s an interesting thing to try and have a little bit of governorship while being as smart as possible. It’s a process,” he said. “We’ve got to sit there, work it through, trust him, and we’ll figure it out as we go.”

It was a solid opening day of camp for the Rams, who still have a few things to do as camp progresses.

Rams coach Sean McVay speaks to quarterback Matthew Stafford at training camp on Sunday.

Rams coach Sean McVay speaks to quarterback Matthew Stafford at training camp on Sunday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

McVay said the team didn’t put All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey (shoulder surgery) on the physically unable list because doctors cleared Ramsey to participate in jog-throughs and “over-the-neck stuff.” had.

McVay added, “He felt good about being able to have him out here with his teammates, with all the different things that we’re asking of him. We felt good about that.” But McVay said Quentin Lake, who was drafted from UCLA, was put on the PUP list out of caution because of a knee injury.

The lineup will take shape in the coming weeks. The Rams’ approach is already clear. Their mantra is that they have turned the page of their championship season and are willing to do anything to repeat it, however difficult that will be.

“It’s a different team. It’s a different year. Just because we did something last year doesn’t mean something will happen this year. We have to go out there and earn it,” Stafford said.

“The chances we had in those games last year were deserved. Wondering what opportunities you are willing to earn? It comes with sacrifice and hard work and a great teammate and all those things.”

Their journey began on a hot July afternoon. Just don’t rely on Stafford’s social media accounts for updates on the ending.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-07-24/matthew-stafford-rams-super-bowl-passing-instagram-photo Matthew Stafford back slinging passes and title talk for Rams

Emma Bowman

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