Keir Thomas

Rams WR Van Jefferson Placed On IR

The Rams are placing third-year wide receiver Van Jefferson on injured reserve as he continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery that’s kept him mostly on the sideline. The move has raised questions as outsiders become less-and-less clear on the true status of Jefferson. 

Jefferson had a breakout year during his sophomore season, starting every game while reeling in 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns after only amassing 220 yards in his rookie year. Jefferson was second in receiving yards and touchdowns for the Super Bowl LVI champions.

The receiving corps has looked quite different to begin this year without four of last year’s six receivers. DeSean Jackson was released midseason last year by request, Robert Woods was traded to the Titans for a sixth-round pick, and Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent after tearing his ACL in the NFL’s season finale. With those three gone, Cooper Kupp, Jefferson, and Ben Skowronek were the only returning receivers from last year. Luckily for the Rams, Kupp, last year’s Offensive Player of the Year, has been his usual self, averaging 118 receiving yards per game in the first two weeks of the season.

The frustration from those following Jefferson’s injury stems from continuous statements from head coach Sean McVay that Jefferson has been “week-to-week” since the start of the season. This has kept optimism alive that Jefferson could return any week or game. But waiting until Week 3 of the season to place Jefferson on IR ensures that he will miss the next five weeks (four games and a bye week), dousing any lingering threads of weekly optimism. If Los Angeles had any idea that Jefferson would be out long-term, it could’ve placed Jefferson on IR far earlier, allowing him to come back as soon as he’s ready, as opposed to now being without their No. 2 wide receiver until the end of October.

In Jefferson’s absence, Stafford has relied on Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee, free agent addition Allen Robinson, and Skowronek as his top targets. They haven’t been utilized much, but Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell, and undrafted rookie Lance McCutcheon have served as backup receivers so far this year.

To fill Jefferson’s spot on the active roster, cornerback Grant Haley has been signed to the active roster from the practice squad. The Rams brought back linebacker Keir Thomas to fill Haley’s spot on the practice squad. Wide receiver Jacob Harris has also been called to action as a standard gameday elevation from the practice squad. Harris missed the back half of his rookie season last year after suffering ACL and MCL injuries and made the shift from tight end to receiver.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/22/22

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

The Rams eyed Jolly as a UDFA target this year, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. The Appalachian State product instead landed with the Browns. This move comes after the Rams placed Troy Hill on IR. The team also is uncertain to have Decobie Durant this week; Durant sustained a hamstring injury in Week 3.

A Kansas City-area native, Blanton will leave his home town again but rejoin a Rams team that carried him on its active roster or practice squad from 2019-21. Rams tight end Brycen Hopkins ran into a three-game suspension this week.

Jones vied for the Titans’ starting left guard job, which Rodger Saffold‘s cap-casualty cut vacated in March. Despite signing Jones to a two-year, $4.8MM deal in free agency, the Titans gave the gig to former UDFA Aaron Brewer. Although Jones has not played this season, he must miss four more games because of this transaction.

Rams Bring In 17 UDFAs

The Rams are the latest team to unveil their crop of undrafted free agents. Here are the 17 UDFAs who have officially signed on with the defending Super Bowl champions:

Texas’ kicker for the past four seasons, Dicker is listed as a punter despite only punting in two of those four. Dicker served as the Longhorns’ full-time punter last season but only logged eight punts prior to that senior year. Dicker averaged 46.8 yards per boot last season, earning first-team All-Big 12 acclaim. The Rams cut 10-year punter Johnny Hekker but signed Riley Dixon later this offseason.

Although the four outside linebackers in this year’s crop should not necessarily be connected to the team’s loss of Von Miller in free agency, this quartet joins a team that used one draft choice (a seventh-rounder at that) on the edge spot. Thomas, who teamed with first-rounder Jermaine Johnson at Florida State last season, used his COVID-19-enabled extra season after playing five years at South Carolina. Thomas recorded 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season. Brayden Thomas and Hughes-Murray also spent six years in college. They registered nine and six sacks as seniors, respectively.

The Rams pursued UDFA quarterbacks, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, and plan to add one before camp (Twitter link). John Wolford and 2020 UDFA Bryce Perkins comprise Matthew Stafford‘s backup contingent. Jamal Pettigrew is a cousin of former Lions first-rounder Brandon Pettigrew. Jamal transferred from LSU, where he played a backup role on the Tigers’ unbeaten national championship team, to McNeese State and played 18 games — seven in the spring due to COVID adjustments — last year. Counting the draft, the Rams added six rookie cornerbacks