Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is on track to return after a one-game absence.
Stafford remains on concussion protocol but is expected to play the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, coach Sean McVay said Wednesday.
Stafford has been on the record since Nov. 8, two days after being sacked four times in the Rams’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla.
John Wolford started in place of Stafford in last Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium that extended the Rams’ losing streak to three games and lowered their record to 3-6.
Stafford, 34, was a full participant in training on Wednesday. McVay said he anticipates the 14th-year pro would be free by Friday and that Stafford was keen to attend a game to be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Stafford, who passed for eight touchdowns with eight interceptions, was not made available to reporters because he was not erased. But Rams players said they were looking forward to playing with him against the Saints (3-7).
“We know how great a competitor Matthew Stafford is and how badly he wants to play with us and be out there,” wide receiver Van Jefferson said. “So it’s great to get him back.”
Stafford practiced on the field without star receiver Cooper Kupp.
Kupp, the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, underwent surgery Wednesday for an ankle injury sustained against the Cardinals. The Rams placed Kupp on injured reserve Wednesday. He will be sidelined for at least four games.
Kupp ranks second in the NFL with 75 catches for 812 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown. His absence puts the blame on receivers Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell and Lance McCutcheon.
Kupp was attacked 98 times, just 12 fewer than the combined targets for those six receivers. Skowronek said they were ready to step up.
“We need to do more,” said Skowronek, who has 26 catches for 245 yards and has rushed for a touchdown.
Robinson, a ninth-year pro in his first season with Rams, started slowly but his production has picked up in the past few games. He has 29 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
Robinson said Rams receivers need to respond.
“It’s not an easy situation or part of the season,” Robinson said. “But at the same time, we have to make sure we’re hyper focused and everyone’s locked in so we can try swinging this thing and see it shake.”
Atwell, a second-round draft pick in 2021, has been inactive for the past two games. He only has one catch.
McCutcheon, a rookie, was playing offense for the first time against the Cardinals. He was not targeted but said the experience has allowed him to acclimatize and he is prepared should passes come his way.
“Whatever role I’m offered, I’ll make the best of it and learn from it,” he said.
When Stafford returns on Sunday, he will be operating alongside a reconfigured receiver corps behind an offensive line that will be in its 10th iteration of the season.
Left-back David Edwards, who was sidelined for four games with a concussion, was a full participant on Wednesday. Center Brian Allen did not practice due to a thumb injury.
Coleman Shelton, who returned last week from an ankle injury and started on the left, could play at center if Allen is out against the Saints.
Wolford (neck), defenseman A’Shawn Robinson (illness) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) were not training, and defenseman Greg Gaines (elbow) was restricted, according to the Rams injury report. … Saints coach Dennis Allen announced Andy Dalton would start as quarterback on Sunday. … The Rams trained in strong winds, which has been a bane to McVay since he was hired in 2017. McVay said an indoor facility would be part of the Rams’ future headquarters in Woodland Hills.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-11-16/desperate-rams-prepare-for-road-game-vs-saints Matthew Stafford (concussion) should be cleared for Rams-Saints