Aug 12, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA;   Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay congratulates quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) after a touchdown in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Stetson Bennett, first-round pick both question marks for Rams

As the Los Angeles Rams prepare to enter the new league year in March, one of their biggest question marks is at the quarterback position.

Matthew Stafford and then who?

The 36-year-old Stafford will be the only quarterback on the roster come March 14 as the Rams churned through backups last season.

Stetson Bennett, a two-time national champion at Georgia, was taken in the fourth round of the 2023 draft to back up Stafford and potentially learn under the veteran as the heir apparent. Bennett left the team in the preseason for a reason that remains undisclosed, and the Rams then turned to Brett Rypien and later Carson Wentz as the understudy.

Rypien was released in November and Wentz will become an unrestricted free agent.

Coach Sean McVay said Thursday that the Rams will reach out to Bennett, 26, “at the appropriate time.”

McVay, in a video conference call with reporters, said it remains to be seen whether club and quarterback will be a good fit.

“And you figure out, ‘All right, where are you at? And is this something we feel like is best for him and our football team to bring him back into this ecosystem?’”

McVay continued: “Those will be conversations that we will have. And then I think once we have a better idea of what we’ll do with that, then that will give clarity.”

Bennett was placed on the non-football injury/illness list last September. At the time, McVay said the move was unrelated to a minor shoulder injury the quarterback experienced. McVay said he couldn’t share specifics, but said the issue was “bigger than” football.

“Out of respect for him and the situation, I’m going to leave all the specifics and particulars in-house,” McVay said then. “And I want to be able to do that out of respect for that situation, so I’m not going to really have any follow-up information or anything that I’ll give in that regards.

“I really hope that you can please respect my wishes in regards to keeping that in-house. I understand you have a job to do, but there are certain things that I think are a little bigger and a little more important. And out of respect for the particulars and the specifics, we want to keep it in-house, and that’s where I want to leave it please.”

Bennett played well in the preseason but faced questions about his maturity and readiness for the NFL during the pre-draft process following an arrest for public intoxication, despite his advanced age for a rookie.

Stafford, the No. 1 pick out of Georgia in 2009 by the Detroit Lions, won the Super Bowl in his first season with the Rams after Los Angeles sent Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Lions for Stafford on March 18, 2021.

The Rams never have made a first-round pick in the Sean McVay era and have the No. 19 selection in April’s draft. Will they use it on a quarterback?

McVay hinted Thursday the Rams could trade out of the first-round spot again.

“Oh, that’s a big if,” he said when asked about making a pick in the round.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebackers coach Chris Shula against the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rams name seven newcomers to coaching staff

The Los Angeles Rams announced seven additions to their coaching staff under Sean McVay on Tuesday, as well as the official promotion of Chris Shula to defensive coordinator.

Shula, who was the Rams’ pass-rush coordinator and linebackers coach last season, has been on the team’s staff since 2017. The son of former Cincinnati Bengals head coach David Shula and grandson of Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, he landed his new position after Raheem Morris departed to take over as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

The defensive staff will undergo an overhaul, with Giff Smith announced as the defensive line coach/run game coordinator, while Greg Williams arrives as the inside linebackers coach.

Smith was the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers last season after Brandon Staley was fired. Williams was the passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers last season after he was an NFL defensive coach since 2009 with four different teams.

Other new additions to the staff include John Streicher as game management coordinator, Rob Calabrese as an offensive assistant, Dave Ragone as quarterbacks coach, Chili Davis as assistant special teams coach and Nate Scheelhaase as an offensive assistant/pass game specialist.

Remaining with the staff under increased responsibilities is tight ends coach Nick Caley, who also will take on pass-game coordinator duties.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay watches game action against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rams coach Sean McVay to miss game for baby’s birth, if necessary

Rams head coach Sean McVay plans to be with his wife when she gives birth to the couple’s first child and will miss Los Angeles’ home game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals if the events overlap.

On Friday, McVay said his wife, Veronika, is due to deliver a boy “any day now.”

The couple married in June 2022.

“Really feel fortunate that it’s been a smooth pregnancy, my wife has been incredible and, so, it hasn’t quite hit me yet,” McVay, 37, said. “He’s active right now. It seems like he’s ready to come at any moment. What a blessing that will be.”

McVay did not reveal who would act as head coach in his absence for the Rams (2-3).

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2023; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay (left), receiver Cooper Kupp (10) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during minicamp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Cooper Kupp (hamstring) returning to practice next week

All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp will return to the practice field next week, putting him a step closer to making his season debut for the Los Angeles Rams.

Coach Sean McVay said the Rams will activate his 21-day window to return from injured reserve.

The Rams play the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5.

Kupp went on IR with chronic hamstring issues and has missed the first three games of the season. He has one more to sit out — Sunday at Indianapolis — before he’s eligible to come back.

McVay said the coaching staff will take Kupp’s input about how he’s feeling before he is cleared to return to action.

“100 percent, it’s our dialogue,” McVay told The Athletic. “I trust the way that he knows how to feel. So, he’s practicing next week. We’re gonna see how he feels. Obviously, there are opinions that really matter. But he’s the one that matters the most, to me, because I know he knows his body.

“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. Walking out this door, getting in your car.’ 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. He’s a big part of our team, and I know he’s put a lot of work in.”

Kupp, 30, was first injured in a training camp practice Aug. 1, leaving the field 30 minutes into a workout. He originally was expected to be out one to two weeks, but he missed all three preseason games. He returned to practice before the Aug. 26 preseason game against the Denver Broncos before having a setback with the injury.

He won the receiving triple crown in 2021, leading the NFL with 145 catches, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, and won NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He was limited to nine games in 2022 with a high ankle sprain.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2023; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp (10) during minicamp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Cooper Kupp has ‘setback’ in hamstring recovery

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp appears to be in danger of missing the start of the season after having a “setback” in his recovery from a hamstring injury, head coach Sean McVay said.

Kupp, 30, was injured in a training-camp practice Aug. 2, leaving the field 30 minutes into a workout. He was originally expected to be out 1-2 weeks but he missed all three preseason games, although he did participate in joint practices with the Denver Broncos last week.

“He has a little muscle strain so we’re taking it day by day,” McVay said.

The Rams have revamped their roster since winning the Super Bowl after the 2021 season, with Kupp one of the remaining veterans along with quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Kupp played nine games last season before a season-ending ankle injury but led the NFL in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2021.

The Rams are set to open the season Sept. 10 at Seattle, leaving little time for the 2021 All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection to resume on-field work.

Kupp is the No. 1 receiver for the Rams, who traded away Allen Robinson II, with Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek following Kupp on the team’s depth chart.

Kupp has 508 catches for 6,329 yards and 46 touchdowns in 80 games (66 starts) since the Rams drafted him in the third round in 2017.

–Field Level Media

Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur on the sidelines in the second half as the New England Patriots defeated the NY Jets 25-6 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on September 19, 2021.

The New England Patriots Came To Play The Ny Jets At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On September 19 2021

Report: Rams to name Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator

The Los Angeles Rams are hiring former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to the same position, NFL Network reported Friday.

LaFleur effectively replaces Liam Coen, who returned to Kentucky as that school’s offensive coordinator.

LaFleur spent the last two seasons with the Jets after previously serving as the San Francisco 49ers’ passing game coordinator from 2017-20. He also worked as an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015-16 and as an offensive intern with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

It is not immediately known if LaFleur will be calling the offensive plays for the Rams. Head coach Sean McVay has done that since being hired by the team in 2017.

LaFleur is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who served as the Rams’ offensive coordinator in McVay’s first year with the Rams.

The Rams went 5-12 in 2022, with a six-game losing streak at midseason all but ruining their chances of repeating as champions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was limited to nine games due to a concussion and later a spinal cord contusion.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (left) and head coach Sean McVay talk during warmups before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rams coach Sean McVay reluctant to discuss next season

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay plans a brief pause, stepping away from the daily grind to determine whether he needs an extended break from the NFL.

McVay has not committed to being back with the Rams for the 2023 season, confirming on Monday reports that he was contemplating stepping away before his 37th birthday later this month.

“Take the next couple of days, really be able to reflect and a lot of conversations that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me and my family,” McVay said Monday of when he would know his plans for next year.

McVay was hired as head coach of the Rams in 2017 as a 30-year-old offensive wunderkind with NFL bloodlines. The youngest Super Bowl-winning coach at age 36 last February, McVay acknowledged he considered not coaching in 2022 and reportedly was offered as much as $100 million over five years to join the Amazon Prime NFL broadcast team.

That, along with getting married and the death of his grandfather — John McVay — have all worn down the Rams’ coach, according to reports.

Los Angeles went 5-12 in 2022, a season marred by injuries to quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Stafford started just nine games in 2022 due to elbow, thumb and head injuries. He said Monday he isn’t certain McVay will return next season.

Either way, Stafford said he plans to play for the Rams.

“I feel really good about where I’m at,” Stafford said.

Donald might not be a guarantee to play next season. He openly weighed retirement, and the Pittsburgh native touched on doubts he wrestled with before signing a new contract for the 2022 season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay walks off the field after the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Sean McVay mulls future as Rams coach

Less than a year after becoming the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, Los Angeles Rams front man Sean McVay is going to take time after the season to contemplate his future, ESPN reported Saturday.

McVay’s future with the team is in “limbo,” per the report.

The Rams are 5-11 heading into their regular-season finale against Seattle on Sunday after a campaign marred by injuries. That, along with getting married and the death of his grandfather — John McVay — have all worn down McVay, per the report.

The Rams signed McVay to an extension before the season, making him under contract through the 2026 season. Financial terms were not released by the club at the time, but McVay is reportedly among the highest-paid coaches in the NFL.

McVay, 36, is 60-37 with one game left to complete a sixth full season as the Rams’ coach.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rams’ Sean McVay: Aaron Donald out vs. Broncos, likely for season

Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald is unlikely to play again this season, coach Sean McVay announced Friday.

McVay initially ruled out Donald for Sunday’s game against the visiting Denver Broncos due to the ankle injury he sustained in the Rams’ 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 27.

When asked if Donald, 31, would play again this season for the Rams (4-10), McVay was quick with his answer.

“Probably not,” he said.

McVay was then asked about the thinking behind that decision.

“I just think, ‘Will he be fully cleared to be Aaron Donald?’” McVay said. “And if he is, talk to him and see. But if not, we’ll err on the side of being smart with him. But obviously, he’s a guy that has certainly earned the right where you talk to him. But he’s not cleared yet and I don’t know that I see that changing in the next couple weeks.”

A seven-time All-Pro, Donald has five sacks and 49 tackles — including 10 for loss — on the season. He also has a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was named to his ninth Pro Bowl on Monday.

In addition to Donald, center Brian Allen, defensive tackle Marquise Copeland, Trevon Howard, linebacker Jake Gervase, wide receiver Ben Skowronek and quarterback John Wolford have been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Broncos (4-10).

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rams coach says WR Cooper Kupp likely won’t return in ’22

Los Angeles Rams star wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who has been sidelined for the last month after undergoing ankle surgery, likely will not return to action this season, according to coach Sean McVay.

In speaking to reporters Tuesday ahead of the Rams’ road game against the Green Bay Packers next Monday night, McVay virtually ruled Kupp out for the remainder of the season, exactly one month since he last took the field.

“You won’t see Cooper this year,” McVay said. “Aaron (Donald), there’s still a possibility, but Cooper, I would be hard-pressed to see any scenario that he would play again this year.”

McVay said his reasoning was based more on the recovery timetable for Kupp and less about the Rams’ 4-9 record heading into a final month that features extremely slim playoff odds for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Kupp, 29, was hurt on Nov. 13 in a home loss against the Arizona Cardinals when he landed awkwardly when trying to catch a pass. He was placed on injured reserve two days later, the same day he underwent surgery for a high ankle sprain — in a procedure known as “tightrope” surgery.

The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year has missed the Rams’ last four games, meaning he could have been eligible to return against the Packers. But McVay removed almost all hope that Kupp would come back at all this season.

Kupp has 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games this season. He led the NFL in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and TD receptions (16) in 2021, later earning Super Bowl LVI MVP honors in the Rams’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

McVay also updated media members on the status of three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who has been out for the past two games, also because of a high ankle sprain. The coach left open the possibility of Donald’s return before the end of the year.

–Field Level Media