At this pace, LA Rams risk repeating this huge mistake from last season

Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Are the LA Rams picking up right where this team left off a year ago? Here we are, having not even played a single regulation snap of the football, and the LA Rams already have three players on injured reserve. Who are they? Rookie outside linebacker Ochaun Mathis was the first to be designated to the Injured Reserve list as soon as the initial 53-man Rams roster was set.

But with today's expected nows, the Rams have already placed three players on Injured Reserve. The two new additions are veteran starting wide receiver Cooper Kupp and backup tight end Hunter Long. Those moves corresponded to a number of personnel transactions announced today by the LA Rams on social media:

So what's the problem? After all, designating players to the Injured Reserve list frees up roster slots, and only restricts those players for a minimum of four weeks before those players can return to the active roster. That is hardly enough time to concern or worry about, right?

IR Rules changed in 2022

Well, the problem is that this concern is not related to the amount of time that these three players are projected to miss. It's not even about the fact that the LA Rams will compete in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks without their most effective offensive weapon. This article simply points out one of the forgotten trivialities about using the Injured Reserve designation.

NFL teams enjoyed an unlimited number of designations to place players on or remove them from the Injured Reserve list through 2022 and 2021. But with the cessation of the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL and NFLPA clamped down on the rules regarding the use of the IR list. Last season, teams were limited to eight players returning from IR throughout the course of the season.

And the running count for the LA Rams right now before a single game is played is three players.

Slow down, you're going too fast

Of course, the Rams could simply avoid the issue by burying healthy players who are medically cleared to return on the IR list throughout the season. Or the Rams front office could take a more controversial approach of simply waiving players with an injury designation.

While that will avoid exhausting the eight players per team rule of restoring IR players to the active roster, the effect to that approach is to either park players on IR all year, or to remove them from the roster altogether. Assuming that neither strategy is used, that means that the LA Rams are planning to reactivate three players off their IR roster at some point early in the 2023 NFL season.

And that means that the Rams have five such moves remaining to last them throughout the 2023 NFL season.

By Week 5 during the 2022 NFL season, the LA Rams' use of reactivating players from the IR list was already at a critical mass. If the Rams suffer just one injury per game that requires the use of the Injured Reserve Designation, the Rams will have run out of options to bring a player back by mid-October.

Ultimately, it was not only the fact that the Rams players were obliterated by injuries. The Rams' roster was severely handicapped from the fact that the team burned through their eight moves to restore players to the active roster, Without the option to bring players back, many medically cleared Rams players simply rode out the rest of last season on IR.

Unfortunately, at their current pace of IR designations, that will happen this year as well.