IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams receiver Van Jefferson will need knee surgery and could miss the regular season opener for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday that Jefferson will undergo “minor” knee surgery on Tuesday. Jefferson will need at least a few weeks to recover, leaving his status in doubt for the Rams’ Sept. 8 opener against Buffalo at Sophie Stadium.
“We’ll see what his availability is like to start the season, but the positive news we got on him was,” McVay said after training camp at UC Irvine. “So we’ll clean the knee tomorrow.”
McVay also said Matthew Stafford is “still feeling a little sore” in his right hand, so the Rams are limiting the quarterback’s participation in team practice.
Jefferson is headed to his third NFL championship after starting all 17 games and all four playoff games for the Rams last year. He had 50 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season before adding nine catches in the playoffs, including four catches for 23 yards in the Super Bowl — right away. Then the famous rush to the hospital For the birth of the child.
Jefferson was second on the Rams’ roster in receiving yards behind Super Bowl MVP Kupp Kupp, who posted one of the most productive seasons in NFL history. But Jefferson didn’t have more than six catches for 90 yards in any NFL game, playing mostly in a supporting role behind Kupp and Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. last season.
McVay’s injury report on Jefferson’s knee is encouraging, and we know he’ll be back soon.
“If anything, you (already) know Van can play football,” McVay added. “He did a great job for us going into Year 3, but this gives us an opportunity to evaluate some of these other receivers.”
Among those receivers, McVay mentioned Tutu Atwell, whose rookie season ended early due to injury, and second-year pro Ben Skowronek, who played surprisingly well in the Rams’ postseason run. McVay said he will give more offensive playing time to journeyman receiver Brandon Powell, who was the Rams’ kick returner last season.
“We’ll keep an eye on those guys, and we’ll continue to see if we can figure out when Odell will be back at some point,” McVay smiled.
Beckham was unsigned after joining the Rams midway through last season and leading up to the Super Bowl when he tore a knee ligament. It’s unlikely the veteran will be ready to play late in the regular season, but McVay and the Rams have been adamant that Beckham return to them when he’s healthy.
After leading the Rams to a title in his first season on the West Coast, Stafford had what he described as a “process” up his sleeve. He didn’t throw any heavy passes in Los Angeles’ offseason program, but he’s throwing in a limited capacity in training camp.
Stafford made more than 40 throws in individual drills on Monday, but sat out team portions of the Rams’ drills.
“He’s very experienced,” McVey said. “The most important thing is that he feels good and healthy on September 8. Sure we can push him, and he can really grind it out, but that’s not the point for someone like him. It’s not our concern. We want to be smart with someone as important as our quarterback.
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