National Football League
Rams’ Cooper Kupp looks to reestablish himself as dominant NFL receiver
National Football League

Rams’ Cooper Kupp looks to reestablish himself as dominant NFL receiver

Published Jun. 12, 2024 1:52 p.m. ET

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Cooper Kupp feels like himself again, and that could mean trouble for the rest of the NFL.

That last time Kupp was fully healthy, he put together one of the most historic campaigns in league history for a receiver. In 2021, he led the league in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16) on his way to earning NFL Offensive Player of the Year and MVP of the Super Bowl.

Since then, it's been somewhat of a struggle for the Rams star. In 2022, he missed the final eight games with a nasty high-ankle sprain that required surgery. Last year, Kupp was slowed during training camp with a hamstring injury. He reinjured the hamstring during a joint training camp practice with the Denver Broncos and missed the first four games of the regular season. 

Even when he returned, Kupp did not look like his explosive self until later in the year. Kupp told FOX Sports there were spurts when he felt like his old self, but because of a limited runway to prepare his body for a full NFL season due to the lingering hamstring injury, he was unable to properly prepare himself to sustain an All-Pro level of play.


In all, Kupp missed 13 games over the past two seasons. Last year in 12 games, he finished with 59 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns. 

"I don't know what I could have done differently, aside from sitting out," Kupp said. "If I didn't feel like I was an asset out there, then I wouldn't be out there." 

Now fully healthy, Kupp said he's looking forward to reestablishing himself as a dominant receiver in the NFL. He looked like his old self during OTAs, having the ability to do a normal offseason buildup to training camp. 

"Getting healthy during the offseason was a big deal, being able to do all the things I want to do," Kupp told FOX Sports. "Last season was rehab [from the ankle injury] for all of it until training camp. And so I've been able to go back and … train with the same people I've trained with for the last four years, when I was actually dialed in, and have the same consistency that I've been able to do every day." 

Coach Sean McVay said there has been a noticeable difference in Kupp on the field. The Rams held their last practice at the team's temporary facility at Cal Lutheran University and will move into new digs in nearby Woodland Hills after holding training camp at Loyola Marymount University.

"He's been great," McVay said. "He's been able to establish a foundation. He knows his body really well. [He's] just so conscientious, such a great leader. 

"You've seen a guy that's been able to really put the work in the way he's accustomed to building it from the ground up. He's out here. He's having fun. He's influencing and effecting positive change in his teammates. I can't say enough good things about how special he's been this offseason."

Before OTAs, workouts this offseason at Kupp's home included second-year receiver Puka Nacua, who said he was puking early on because of the intensity.

Kupp, however, said Nacua's reports were a little overblown.

"He makes it sound like it was a huge deal, but he's got a little bit of a weak stomach," Kupp said with a laugh. "He's a pregame puker. He's in the bathroom stall before games and people are asking if there's a problem with Puka before games. But it was nothing crazy." 

Kupp said he expects Nacua to continue to perform at an elite level after setting the NFL rookie records for receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,486) last year.

"That's one of the hardest things, when success finds you suddenly," Kupp said. "It's hard to go back and say, ‘I'm going to go earn it again.' He could have easily made the justification of, 'That came quickly; it came easily. What's there to work for?'

"But his willingness to jump back in and go to work, that's the first step to continue to grow and become a better football player. I thought he came out here in OTAs and was moving really well. He looks like a very strong, athletic football player. And I'm excited to see what he can do in Year 2 having done all that work." 

After minicamp, Kupp won't go back to Oregon to train as he's done in years past, choosing instead to train in Southern California with Nacua.

"The goal is to win games, win Super Bowls," said Kupp, who turns 31 on June 15. "That's always what it is. I don't have personal goals that I have set for myself, other than I want to be out there. When training camp starts and Week 1 starts up, I want to be a better football player than I was before, improving and growing from one year to the next.

"If I can be an asset and positive piece to this team, then that's the goal at the end of the day."

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Kupp still has three years left on an $80.1 million extension he signed in 2022. With receiver contracts skyrocketing, Kupp has dropped to No. 7 at $26.7 million in average annual salary.

"Outside of quarterback, I think you've seen the most growth in the position over the years," Kupp said. "It makes sense, because as the quarterback grows, you have these receivers that have been doing some really good stuff. … I'm really proud of the [receivers] that we've got in this league that are playing at a really high level." 

Kupp intends to be one of them again in 2024.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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