Van Jefferson

NFC West Notes: Rams, Cards, 49ers, Hawks

Van Jefferson‘s second 2022 surgery will shut him down for weeks. In their No. 3 wide receiver’s stead, the Rams are using the likes of second-round pick Tutu Atwell, veteran backup Ben Skowronek, converted tight end Jacob Harris and fifth-year return specialist Brandon Powell, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Of course, the Rams have also been linked — mostly by their own words — to a second Odell Beckham Jr. contract.

We’ll look at those guys and then we’ll continue to see if we can figure out when Odell will come back at some point as well,” Sean McVay said.

Jefferson’s surgery went well, Rodrigue tweets, adding a Week 1 return should be realistic. Although the Rams signed Beckham when Robert Woods was still healthy, Jefferson’s role was not threatened after the latter’s injury. He finished his sophomore NFL slate with 50 receptions, 802 yards (nearly quadrupling rookie-year total) and six touchdowns. Although Beckham coming back and joining Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson would threaten Jefferson’s playing time, the third-year receiver should have a firm grip on the WR3 job for a bit.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Activated off the non-football injury list Tuesday, Marquise Brown found himself in off-field trouble several hours later. The recently acquired Cardinals wide receiver was arrested on a criminal speeding charge and booked in the Maricopa County Jail. The arrest occurred at 7:05am Wednesday in north Phoenix, according to Jose Romero of the Arizona Republic. Brown was traveling from his home to the Cards’ facility, per Kliff Kingsbury. Brown, acquired in a draft-weekend deal that saw the Cardinals’ first-round pick change hands, faces a potential suspension under the personal conduct policy purview.
  • D.J. HumphriesCardinals extension is for three years and $51.8MM, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger tweets. This deal comes with a $17MM signing bonus, per’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Humphries’ 2022 cap number will also drop from $19.9MM to $12.6MM, creating some additional space for the Cards. Humphries’ extension is worth a bit more than his previous contract (three years, $44.3MM), but it comes in eighth among left tackles for AAV.
  • The 49ers may go with two unseasoned guards this year. They have been using fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford exclusively as their first-string right guard, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. If the Texas-San Antonio product can stick at this position, it could relocate two-year San Francisco right guard starter Daniel Brunskill to center, where he is battling veteran backup Jake Brendel to take over for Alex Mack. Buford is vying to join Aaron Banks as a guard starter. The 2021 second-round pick logged five offensive snaps as a rookie but looks to have a firm grip on the 49ers’ left guard gig in camp.
  • The SeahawksReuben Foster workout does not look to signal an immediate signing, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. This appears to be a case of the Seahawks kicking the tires on the former first-round pick. Foster has not played in a game since the 2018 season. Although Washington claimed the once-high-profile linebacker during the 2018 season, he never played a down for the team. An ACL tear during Washington’s 2019 offseason program led the Alabama product out of the league. However, the Seahawks are the fifth team to work out Foster since his Washington contract expired following the 2020 season. The Jets, Jaguars, Browns and Dolphins have also brought him in.
  • Former Jets quarterback James Morgan also worked out for the Seahawks, auditioning Thursday. The team, which is holding a long-scrutinized Geno SmithDrew Lock competition, is not planning an immediate Morgan signing, Aaron Wilson of tweets. A Green Bay native, Morgan, 25, also worked out for the Packers recently.

Rams’ Van Jefferson To Undergo Surgery

AUGUST 1: McVay said Jefferson will undergo knee surgery Tuesday, though the sixth-year Rams HC described the procedure as minor and indicated the timetable here will be a few weeks, via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). McVay stopped short of guaranteeing Jefferson would be ready for the regular season, however.

JULY 31: Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson will see a knee specialist on Monday, as Ian Rapoport of reports (via Twitter). The third-year pro missed practice on Saturday, and in speaking with reporters after practice, head coach Sean McVay did not explicitly say whether Jefferson’s absence was related to his knee.

“We’re figuring that out right now, working through that,” McVay said (via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, citing Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “I’ll have more information for you later — like I said, I don’t have anything right now.”

Those comments don’t shed much light on the matter, but Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says that the coach was clearly concerned about his big-play wideout (Twitter link). McVay is not scheduled to speak with the media today, so we are unlikely to have additional information until Monday at the earliest.

Jefferson played through a knee injury late in the 2021 regular season and throughout the Rams’ postseason run to a Super Bowl title. As Rodrigue notes (via Twitter), Jefferson underwent a knee procedure in the spring, though he appeared to be in good health when training camp opened and was moving well. Per Rapoport, Jefferson could miss a few weeks, and another surgery is on the table.

The Rams selected Jefferson in the second round of the 2020 draft, and he played a key role in the club’s offensive success in 2021. Despite the knee problems, he started all 17 regular season contests, compiling 50 catches for 802 yards (good for a terrific 16.0 yards-per-reception rate) and six TDs. He also started all four postseason games, adding nine more catches for 102 yards.

Los Angeles has an enviable WR corps, with Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Jefferson as the top three players on the depth chart. The team invests heavily at the position, and if Jefferson is forced to miss time, the Rams have 2021 draftees Tutu Atwell, Jacob Harris, and Ben Skowronek waiting in the wings. An Odell Beckham reunion has consistently been rumored as a possibility, but OBJ may be unable to suit up until November, so the Jefferson situation will not necessarily impact the team’s decision to re-sign Beckham.

In better health-related news for Los Angeles, quarterback Matthew Stafford sounded mostly positive when asked how his arm is feeling after the first week of training camp. The 34-year-old passer did not throw during spring work because of a right elbow injury, but he has been throwing in camp.

“It’s coming along,” Stafford told reporters on Saturday (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I’m kind of right where I want to be and just continue to get it feeling better. Get it stronger. You just lose those reps through the offseason and [I’m] trying to gain some of those reps back at the moment.”