Rams hurt: Matthew Stafford has even greater arm pain. Van Jefferson needs knee surgery

Matthew Stafford might refer to “excellent,” but the Rams quarterback still has pain in that throwing arm. (Mark J. Terrell/The Associated Press)

Receiver Van Jefferson isn’t the only member of the attack rams passing by with a physical condition of concern.

Add quarterback Matthew Stafford to the list.

Jefferson will have knee surgery on Tuesday, putting his place in the September 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills “in the air,” and the Rams have taken steps to ensure Stafford is ready to play in that game without the pain continuing in his right arm, coach Sean McVeigh said on Monday.

Stafford played through a sore arm while leading the Rams to the Super Bowl title, and received an injection into his elbow during an off-season. He did not throw passes during the training of the organized team activity, but was fully involved in the practices of the training camp.

On Saturday, Stafford was asked how his arm feels, and if he should have done anything different to manage it between workouts.

He said, “It’s coming.” “I’m right where I want to be and still feel better. Get it stronger.”

“As far as things are different, putting this thing together every year is a little different,” he said, passing his hands in front of his body. “Well, there are different challenges. We go from there.”

On Monday, Stafford participated in individual training but did not participate in full-team training. McVeigh said Stafford’s workload will “reduce” in the weeks leading up to the opening because he is still struggling with discomfort.

“He’s still in some pain,” McVeigh said. “He can push it. … We felt the smart thing was to take him a week at a time. … The most important thing for him was to feel happy and healthy on September 8th.

“We can certainly push, and he can really get through this, but that’s not the point with someone like him. It’s not something we’re concerned about, but we just want to be really smart with someone who is just as important as a midfielder.”

Jefferson underwent surgery on his left knee in the weeks following their Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not participate in training during the organizing team’s activities but had several impressive moments in the first week of training camp before his absence on Saturday.

Tuesday’s procedure will be on the same knee for what McVeigh described as a “little knee disc” that had nothing to do with last season’s problem.

“It’s the same knee, but it’s a slightly different area,” McVeigh said. “And this is a secondary thing that we will be able to clean up.

“So we are encouraged.”

Jefferson’s absence plunges one of the NFL’s most effective receiving teams into a series of question marks as the Rams prepare for the Bills, who are seen as Super Bowl rivals.

Cooper Kupp, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and new additions Allen Robinson, McVay and Stafford provide elite two goalscorers.

But Jefferson’s loss can be profound.

The Rams' wide receiver extends Van Jefferson to catch a pass in the Super Bowl LV against the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13.

Van Jefferson, the future of the Wide Rams, runs to book a pass in the Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13. Jefferson’s availability in the season opener against Buffalo is “in the air”. (Wally Scalig/Los Angeles Times)

Last season’s professional third-year player had 50 assists, six of them for touchdowns. He also demonstrated deep playing ability and averaged 16 yards per catch.

Pro sophomores Ben Skoronic and Toto Atwell compete to replace Jefferson.

Skowronek, a seventh-round pick, had 11 passes for 133 yards last season. He can play many reception positions and also excel in special teams.

Atwell, who picked the second round, is trying to come back from a disappointing rookie season. Atwell who is 5 feet 9 and 165 pounds looked way too much and couldn’t find a role as a receiver. He returned to kicks for eight games until he picked up a shoulder injury at the end of the season.

During the sabbatical, Atwell sought guidance from Kupp and worked closely with All-Pro to improve and gain strength. He gave several plays on Monday.

McVay is also continuing to hold a public trial for future agent Odell Beckham Jr. to re-sign with the Rams.

Last season, Beckham signed the Rams after the trading deadline and helped them run the Super Bowl. He sustained a knee injury in the second quarter of the Super Bowl and was recovering from surgery.

Beckham is not expected to be ready to play until the middle of the season.

But after McVeigh included recipients in the list who could take advantage of the increased opportunities, he was unable to add my feedback.

“And then we’ll continue to see if we can continue to see when Odell will be back at some point as well,” he said.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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