Ochaun Mathis

Rams To Activate Cooper Kupp From IR

OCTOBER 7: Kupp is officially back on the active roster. The team announced that they’ve activated the wide receiver from injured reserve today. In addition to getting their star wideout back on the field, the Rams also announced the activation of rookie linebacker Ochaun Mathis from IR. The sixth-round pick out of Nebraska could end up making his NFL debut this week.

Additionally, Los Angeles announced that practice squad wide receiver Austin Trammell will be signed to the active roster. Trammell has been a standard gameday elevation for the past the three games. A practice squad player can only be elevated three times and still be able to revert to the practice squad under one contract. In order for Trammell to see game action again, the Rams needed to officially sign him to the 53-man roster. If they want him back on the practice squad, he’ll have to last through waivers. If they are able to re-sign Trammell to a new practice squad contract, he will be eligible for three more standard gameday promotions before the process will need to be repeated.

OCTOBER 6: Cooper Kupp‘s ramp-up period will be capped at one week of practices. Sean McVay confirmed the All-Pro wide receiver will make his season debut in Week 5 against the Eagles.

Down with a hamstring injury, Kupp will return when first eligible and become the Rams’ first IR activation this season. Kupp battled a hamstring issue for nearly the Rams’ entire training camp, and a setback led to the team moving him to IR. Los Angeles’ receiving situation has changed since Kupp last played, but the team will obviously feature a more potent pass-catching corps with its top target available.

During Kupp’s absence, the Rams have seen fifth-round rookie Puka Nacua deliver one of the most surprising first months by a rookie wide receiver in NFL history. Prior to D.J. Moore‘s Thursday-night dominance, Nacua sat second in receiving yards (501). Only Justin Jefferson (543) had Nacua beat through four games. The Rams appear to have hit big on a Day 3 receiver out of BYU, and they have seen Tutu Atwell take steps forward after struggling to make an impact through two seasons. Atwell will enter the L.A.-Philadelphia matchup with 22 receptions for 270 yards.

It will be interesting to see how Kupp mixes in with the promising younger talents, but the Rams have seen their high-priced wideout run into injury trouble during much of the past two years. An ankle issue led to Kupp’s 2022 season ending midway through. During what became a woeful Super Bowl title defense, the Rams lost Kupp, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald for the season. Kupp was the first of those cornerstone players to be moved to IR, last playing in Week 10 of the ’22 season. Kupp underwent ankle surgery and entered this offseason healthy but encountered the hamstring issue days into training camp.

Kupp, 30, saw a specialist about his hamstring injury just before the season, and while concerns existed about a nerve problem, the seventh-year receiver instead avoided a serious malady and moved toward a return. The Rams gave Kupp a monster extension in 2022, ripping up his previous deal — despite the accomplished slot weapon only signing it in September 2020 — after his historic 2021 season.

Stafford and Kupp formed an instant connection in 2021, and the Division I-FCS product notched a receiving triple-crown season. Kupp nearly brought down Calvin Johnson‘s single-season yardage mark, finishing with 1,947 yards in a 16-touchdown season. Kupp also nearly broke Larry Fitzgerald‘s record for receiving yards in a single playoffs, closing L.A.’s four-game slate with 478 and six TDs. The Super Bowl LVI MVP could not complete his follow-up effort last season but averaged 90.2 yards per game — his second-best average as a pro — and will return to a team that now features a better supporting cast.

Rams Open Cooper Kupp’s Practice Window

OCTOBER 4: As expected, Kupp is back at Rams practice. The team announced the All-Pro wide receiver’s designation for return Wednesday. This starts Kupp’s 21-day activation clock. The Rams will have three weeks to move the seventh-year veteran back to their active roster. Los Angeles also designated linebacker Ochaun Mathis for return.

Teams have eight IR-return activations available each season. Should both Kupp and Mathis return within the next three weeks, the Rams will be down to six. It is unknown if the Rams are prepared to redeploy their top weapon in Week 5, but The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes Kupp is pushing to play Sunday. Although Kupp’s visit with a specialist proved concerning, Russini adds the injury was not as serious as the team initially feared.

SEPTEMBER 29: The Rams appear close to having their top wideout available in the near future. Cooper Kupp will return to practice next week, head coach Sean McVay said Friday.

As a result, Kupp’s 21-day window to be activated will open in the coming days. Players on IR are required to be activated within three weeks of returning to practice; if not, they are shut down for the rest of the campaign. Kupp’s case has been trending toward a quick activation recently, so it comes as no surprise that he is in line to suit up in the near future.

A pair of hamstring injuries cost Kupp most of training camp and led to his IR stint to begin the season. He thus has plenty of lost time to make up for in the coming days, but the All-Pro likely won’t need much in the way of practice to return to game shape. The decision on when to officially activate him will be a collective one, McVay noted. The readiness of Kupp (who consulted a specialist to gather further information on the injury) himself will be taken into account, of course.

“100 percent, it’s our dialogue,” McVay said of Kupp, via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required). “I trust the way that he knows how to feel. So, he’s practicing next week. We’re gonna see how he feels… We’re not going to do anything that’s reckless. But I also have enough trust and confidence in our relationship, knowing how intentional he is about educating himself [and] using the information at his disposal. There’s an element of, ‘There’s always going to be a risk no matter what’… If he feels good enough, and the situation [is] in alignment where we’re ready, we’re gonna get Cooper back and ready to compete for us.”

The Rams have had one of the league’s most productive passing games without Kupp so far, ranking fourth in the league with an average of 303 yards per game. Still, the former Triple Crown winner’s return will provide a signficant boost to the team’s offense, one which has relied heavily on fifth-round rookie Puka Nacua. Los Angeles has elected to begin a youth movement at a number of positions in 2023, but the 30-year-old Kupp will reprise his role as the focal point of the offense upon return.

The latter was limited to nine games due to an ankle injury last year, so remaining on the field for the rest of 2023 will be a priority in addition to another high-end statistical performance. Kupp – along with newly-extended tight end Tyler Higbee – will give the Rams a pair of consistent veterans in the passing game as they look to improve from their 1-2 start to the season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/1/23

Friday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Washington Commanders

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/1/23

Saturday’s list of rookie deals:

Los Angeles Rams

Each of the Rams’ sixth-round selections are now on the books, as is the case for all of their Day 3 picks. Of the team’s 14-man draft haul, only two members are now unsigned: Byron Young and Kobie Turner. Those third-rounders still have plenty of time to ink their rookie deals before the start of training camp and the regular season, one which will in many ways be marked by a youth movement in Los Angeles.