The LA Rams may not be tanking this season, but the hopes of this team's success are both brittle and fragile. The ability of this team to remain healthy enough to compete consistently is very dependent upon the team's ability to remain healthy. Unfortunately, the Rams have several veterans on the team who simply tend to be injured.
On that list of the oft-injured is veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp. While he managed to compete throughout the entire 2021 NFL season, the year in which the LA Rams won Super Bowl LVI, his career has been riddled with injuries that have taken him off the field when the Rams have needed him most.
That is problematic for any player. But it is even more of a challenge when that happens to be the veteran who is the highest paid player at that position.
Kupp's first injury of the 2023 NFL season
The LA Rams 2022 season was nothing short of a complete disaster. While many cite the incessant injuries to the Rams offensive linemen, the true downfall of the season began when veterans began to suffer injuries. One such veteran was wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who sat out the entire second have of the Rams 2022 season.
The hope was that by resting Kupp, the Rams could regroup and rally on offense in 2023. That plan derailed before the 2023 NFL season ever got underway. You see, Kupp suffered a bothersome hamstring injury.
That complicated the Rams season, but did afford an opportunity for rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua to shine so far. It also forced the Rams offense to consider make off-overlooked wide receiver Tutu Atwell an integral part of the Rams offense. It's no secret that for the first four games of the 2023 NFL season, Atwell truly appeared to be on his way to a 1000 receiving yard season, putting up 270 yards in his first four games.
Meanwhile, Cooper Kupp's return in 2023 did little to help the Rams offense. In the five games in which Kupp started and finished the game, the Rams won just one of five contests. In those five games, the Rams' offense averaged just 16 points a game. Part of the reason was the fact that Kupp suddenly struggled to catch the football, barely hauling in more than half of the passes thrown his way.
Since Kupp was the primary target in the Rams offense, averaging nine targets per game, that helped to explain why the Rams offense struggled to score points after his return.
Kupp's second injury of the Rams 2023 season?
The LA Rams offense was sputtering in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. Unlike most games, the Rams had only targeted Cooper Kupp once, a completion for 11 yards. But before the Rams had scored any points whatsoever, the unthinkable happened once more.
Cooper Kupp suffered an ankle injury in the first half of the game, an event that forced the Rams to restrategize their offensive game plan.
So what is the latest update on Kupp?
Other players on the Rams offense had to step up, and they did. The Rams got contributions out of WR Austin Trammel, Demarcus Robinson, Tutu Atwell, and of course, Puka Nacua. Even running back Darrell Henderson Jr. was active in the passing game, hauling in four of seven passes for 28 yards. And none of that would have made a difference if not for the gutsy and punishing running of veteran RB Royce Freeman, who topped all LA Rams players with 73 yards on 17 carries.
It all added up to an ugly win, but a victory all the same. The Rams needed to win a tough game in this fashion. This young Rams roster had to learn that they can win a physical game without Cooper Kupp. Now that the Rams know that they can outmuscle opponents, the question becomes what will this team do with that knowledge? The LA Rams proved that they can win a game by running the football and making successful passes with play action.
Will it help the Rams win in Week 12? It can, but only if the Rams embrace that knowledge. Stay tuned.