IRVINE — Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was running on fumes Saturday when he met with local reporters after a competitive padded practice, a photo session with family members and interviews with NFL Network.
But he promised to give it his all, Stafford jokingly said before taking questions.
His arm, however, didn’t appear fatigued during the first week of training camp. Stafford has shaken off the rust from not throwing in the offseason program because of an elbow injection he received after winning Super Bowl LVI.
Stafford has displayed the same velocity and touch he’s had throughout his decorated 14-year NFL career, and he’s had several highlight throws to his talented receiving corps.
“It’s coming along,” Stafford said. “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. As far as things are different, piecing this thing together every year is a little bit different. So, yeah, there’s different challenges. We go from there.”
Stafford, 34, will get some earned rest Sunday by not throwing during a planned light workout, according to Rams coach Sean McVay.
“It wasn’t fun,” Stafford said after being asked if he got more work on the mental side by not throwing in the offseason. “I’d much rather be out there competing, doing what I love to do and throwing the ball and all that kind of stuff. But I like to think that I’m constantly thinking and analyzing things, whether I’m in the play, throwing it, or if I’m standing on the sidelines. So I don’t know that I got much extra out of it.”
WAITING FOR JEFFERSON UPDATE
Wide receiver Van Jefferson didn’t participate in Saturday’s practice and it’s unknown whether his absence is related to the knee injury that sidelined him during the offseason program.
McVay declined to go into details when asked about Jefferson after practice.
“We’re figuring that out right now,” McVay said. “I’ll have more information for you later. Like I said, I don’t have anything right now.”
Jefferson said last week that he was 100 percent healthy after having knee surgery in the offseason for an injury that bothered him throughout the 2021 season.
Second-year wideout Ben Skowronek took most of Jefferson’s first-team reps on Saturday.
Star wide receiver Allen Robinson put on a show Saturday, delivering his best camp outing as a member of the Rams.
He made a handful of impressive catches, but none better than his toe-tap, jump-ball touchdown reception in the back of the end zone with tight coverage from cornerback Troy Hill.
Robinson also gave rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick fits by converting chunk plays, including on a memorable comeback route that allowed him to shake Kendrick in coverage.
“I think just being able to get him those targets,” McVay said on using Robinson as a red-zone target. “He can really run a bunch of different types of routes down there. You saw there was a great job. Matthew kind of working through a progression … big, strong physical guy working across the back of the end zone. You talk about a big catch radius where it doesn’t even feel like he has to leave the ground to really be kind of right at that goal post.
“The aggressive hands, all the things that you really want to be able to see from a receiver. Good body control, being able to create separation and aggressively attack the football. That’s what Allen shows at this point.”
Stafford on his touchdown dart to Robinson in red-zone drills: “He went up and got it, great diving catch, strong hands. That’s what he’s about. That’s what’s going to help us put points on the board is making plays like that in the red zone.”
WR Allen Robinson going off today. Just had a toe-tap TD in the red zone for his one of many standout catches in team drills #Rams
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) July 30, 2022
ROTATING RUNNING BACKS
The Rams are playing it safe with running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson by giving them limited carries in padded practices. Both players are coming off injuries.
Henderson got the bulk of the carries Saturday in team drills.
“I think it’s been good,” McVay said about the backfield rotation. “I look at it as we’ve got two starting backs. Those guys are great complements of one another, but I see them as both starting-caliber players. We need to get them involved. They need to be on the field. I think it’s healthy for them to be able to supplement one another.”
FUN WITH FANS
Jalen Ramsey isn’t participating in team drills because of his shoulder injury, but he’s staying busy as an extra coach and entertainer for the fans at UC Irvine.
Ramsey occasionally responded to fans who chanted his name in between snaps and even played catch with some of the youngsters in attendance.
Outside linebackers Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis also had Q&A sessions with fans, and a day prior, Leonard Floyd signed a few autographs during practice.
Ramsey doesn’t mind engaging with fans on the sideline, but he had one request for them – watch practice when the quarterbacks are under center.
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) July 30, 2022