Last week the Rams lost star wide receiver Cooper Kupp for the season. Kupp left the game against the Seahawks because of a non-contact knee injury that was later diagnosed to be an ACL tear. The loss of Kupp is a significant one for the Rams offense and they will have to look at other options to fill his role. Kupp finishes his second NFL season with 40 receptions for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Rams offense runs a three wide receiver set more frequently than any other team in the NFL and that should not change going forward. Normally, the three wide receivers are Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Since Kupp is out for the year, I expect to see second year pro, Josh Reynolds, take his place. Reynolds, a 2017 4th round pick out of Texas AM, has played limited snaps for the Rams this season. On the year, Reynolds has 7 receptions on 12 targets for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, in the two games Kupp has missed this year he has 4 receptions on 6 targets for 61 yards and both touchdowns. Going forward, Reynolds should see a much larger role in the offense as he will most likely be the third wide receiver on the field.
Another player that I think can make a larger impact now is tight end Gerald Everett. Everett, a 2017 2nd round draft pick out of South Alabama, was drafted by the Rams to be an athletic receiving tight end. His combination of size, speed, and athletic ability can be a mismatch for many opposing defenses. Up to this point in his career the Rams have not utilized Everett as much as I thought they would. Now without Cooper Kupp, the Rams need a third WR to step up and Everett could be the guy. Even though he is listed as a tight end, Everett could be utilized more as a receiver who runs the underneath routes to open up the rest of the field. His size (6’ 3” 240lbs) makes it hard for corners and safeties to guard him one on one and his speed will make it difficult for linebackers to keep up with him. An opportunity for more playing time can show the true potential Everett has at becoming a threat in the Rams offense.
As for current starters, I expect Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks to have even larger roles in the passing game. This season, Woods and Cooks have been used in a variety of ways. Sean McVay has used them on screen passes, short throws across the middle, deep routes on play action, and even handoffs on jet sweeps. So far this season, Woods has 55 receptions (79 targets), 832 yards, and 3 touchdowns while Cooks has 51 receptions (72 targets), 857 yards, and 3 touchdowns. They have nearly identical numbers and have both shown to be viable in any situation. Now that Kupp is out, I expect both to have an even larger role in the offense than they already do. At this point in the season Cooks and Woods both average around 7 targets a game and I would not be the least bit surprised if they both average 10 a game going forward.
Even though the Kupp injury is devastating, the Rams have a lot of weapons to make up for the loss. Kupp is a special player who will be missed but unfortunately injuries happen all the time in the NFL. Sean McVay has created a winning, team oriented culture in Los Angeles and there will be many players who will look to fill Kupp’s role. Although it may be tough at first, the Rams have the personnel and coaching staff to not allow one major injury end their season.
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