Cooper Kupp is on the road to recovery after tearing his ACL last season, aiming to be back for the start of the 2019 season. Les Snead said he’s right on track to be ready for training camp, though the team will be cautious with him during OTAs and the offseason program.
Kupp is a relentless competitor and wants to get back on the field as soon as possible, but he knows this isn’t a rehab process he can rush. Torn ACLs take a long time to recover from, sometimes up to a full year.
On the newest episode of the Rams’ “Behind the Grind” series, Kupp detailed exactly what happened on the play where he tore his ACL, while also sharing an update on his recovery. The injury came in Week 10 against the Seahawks, ending his season early.
“(Shaquill) Griffin was on the outside, so I kind of tried to burst him vertical because he was kind of sitting on the route, burst him vertical and get him going, and as soon as I put my foot in the ground, he was able to kind of collision me a little bit and — leg hit the ground and it obviously didn’t feel good. Something was wrong,” he said.
Kupp and training assistant Byron Cunningham won’t say whether the receiver is ahead of schedule or on track, but they feel good about his recovery. Kupp said he feels good where he is right now and continues to attack his rehab.
“I feel good. I don’t think we like to talk about being on pace or off pace, ahead or behind or anything like that, but I think I’m where I’m supposed to be,” Kupp said. “Now, to get back on the field and put cleats on for the first time since the injury, it feels like it really just kind of refreshes things and gives me some new motivation to be able to go attack this thing.”
Cooper Kupp quickly became one of the best slot receivers in the NFL after just one and a half seasons, proving to be Jared Goff’s favorite target. His rapid ascent was halted in Week 10, unfortunately, when he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season.
He played just eight games but still finished with 40 catches on 55 targets, 566 yards and six touchdowns – tied for the team-high and one more than he had in 15 games as a rookie.
Sean McVay said at the NFL combine last week that Kupp is expected to be ready for training camp and 100 percent for the start of the season. That’s great news for the Rams, who have one of the best wide receiver units in the league.
Just because Kupp’s planning to be healthy for camp doesn’t mean he’ll be a full-go in practice this summer. Les Snead told ESPN’s Matthew Berry that the Rams will ease him into action during OTAs and training camp.
“He’s progressing well. If you know Cooper, he’s going to work extremely hard,” Snead said. “If there’s a hard worker – if there’s a 10 out there, he’s a 12, he’s a 13. You almost want to say, ‘Hey Cooper, you need to take a break. You need to go on vacation.’ But that would be fruitless. He’s not listening to you. He would go somewhere else and work hard. So he’s progressing. I think what we will do, though, through OTAs, through training camp, is definitely manage him, ease him in. We know Cooper Kupp can play.”
Snead said there’s “no doubt” Kupp will be available Week 1 of the regular season, and given the timing of the injury, that should come as no surprise. That gives him almost 10 full months to recover, and some players have come back from torn ACLs in as little as six months.
The Rams will still take it slow and limit the chance of re-injury by bringing him along slowly during practice and likely the preseason.
“The goal is to make sure he’s fully recuperated and really take a lot of the risk out of doing anything else to it through those, let’s call it, times of the year where they’re not keeping score,” Snead added.
With Kupp healthy, Goff will have his usual trio of receivers with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods returning in 2019. The Rams were at their best when Kupp was healthy, and as good as Josh Reynolds was, Kupp is a real difference-maker.
Kupp tore his ACL during Los Angeles’ Week 10 victory over the Seahawks at the L.A. Coliseum. And even though the Rams were able to win a conference championship, losing Kupp certainly impacted the offense.
“Cooper’s a great player,” McVay said. “I think when you just talk about the things that he was able to provide our football team, he was so consistent, so versatile in terms of a guy that is really a great productive player in the run game. Obviously, in the pass game he did an outstanding job. He’s a guy that, situationally, was a big part of our offense — whether it be in the red zone or on third down. So you certainly missed him.”
To McVay’s point, Kupp caught eight passes on 11 targets in the red zone, three of which resulted in touchdowns. Eight of Kupp’s 10 receptions on third down resulted in first downs. And despite playing in only eight games, Kupp still finished tied for the team lead with six touchdown receptions. Overall, Kupp caught 40 passes for 566 yards with those eight TDs in 2018.
“He’s making great progress. He’s one of the most conscientious players that I’ve ever seen. He’s already worried about, ‘Am I going to miss some things in OTAs?’ — things like that,” McVay said. “But talking to Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and Reggie Scott, he’s in great shape and right on pace to be ready to go, especially with training camp.”
So that appears to be the target — training camp, which will start in late July. But even so, McVay seemed like the team will do its best to make sure Kupp isn’t rushed back too soon.
“We want to have a long-term vision with him,” McVay said. “But he’s already doing things that I think are probably way ahead of what normally would be the process from an ACL. But we feel really good about the way he’s going to respond.”