National Football League
Rams must find offense against Seahawks without star WR Cooper Kupp
National Football League

Rams must find offense against Seahawks without star WR Cooper Kupp

Updated Sep. 8, 2023 2:02 p.m. ET

The Los Angeles Rams had hoped to put last year's injury-plagued season in the rearview mirror.

However, the season has not even started yet and one of the team's best players has been ruled out for Sunday's regular-season opener on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.

No. 1 receiver Cooper Kupp will not play back in his home state of Washington because of a hamstring issue. He could land on the injured reserve and be out for the foreseeable future. 

Kupp, 30, first tweaked his hamstring during red zone work in a training camp practice on Aug. 1. After taking some time off for recovery, Kupp returned to practice on Aug. 21. He competed against the Denver Broncos in joint practices and appeared on track to play in his team's season opener this Sunday.

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However, Kupp reinjured the hamstring and did not practice last week. Rams head coach Sean McVay said he suffered a setback. The Eastern Washington product traveled to Minnesota to see a soft tissue specialist over the weekend and was ruled out for Sunday's season opener by McVay on Wednesday.

If the Rams put Kupp on injured reserve, he would miss at least the first four games of the season and would not be eligible to return until L.A.'s Oct. 8 contest at home against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.

"There's a lot of gray behind this," McVay told reporters this week. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't really answer anything more about that. I just know that it doesn't follow the standard protocol for when you've reaggravating a soft tissue injury.

"We're trying to continue to get a grasp on exactly what it is so that he can get back to feeling like the Cooper that we know and love, and hopefully we'll do that."

Kupp missed eight games last season with a high ankle sprain, but he's been a mainstay in L.A.'s offense. Over the last two seasons, Kupp is second in the NFL in receiving touchdowns (22), fourth in receiving yards (2,759) and fourth in receptions (220).

Will Cooper Kupp's injury setback derail Rams season?

But with the team's best receiver out, quarterback Matthew Stafford will lean on Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua to move the ball through the air. 

And also look for the Rams to test Seattle's improved run defense on the ground, with the return of Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner to the Seahawks after manning the middle of the defense last season for the Rams.

Running back Cam Akers ran for 104 yards in the final regular season game against Seattle in 2022. And he's joined in the backfield by USC product Kyren Williams, giving L.A. a solid, 1-2 punch at running back. 

The Seahawks allowed 150.2 yards per game last season, No. 30 in the NFL. The Seahawks will be without one of the team's best defensive players in safety Jamal Adams, who still has not returned from a torn quad suffered in the season opener against the Broncos last season.

New free agent addition Julian love is expected to start at safety in place of Adams. The Seahawks also may be without the team's top draft pick from the year, No. 5 overall selection Devon Witherspoon.

The Illinois product has been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury but returned to practice as a limited participant this week. 

Regardless of who's out there defensively, expect Wagner to lead the way for the Seahawks. The 33-year-old linebacker was voted one of six captains for Seattle this year. 

"It just makes the game more fun because you know them, and they know you," Wagner said about facing the Rams in his first game playing for the Seahawks in his return to Seattle. "You got to pick their brain. I was asking them about things that they were doing against us when I was playing here. Who would've thought that I would've come back here? 

"Now, will they use those things, will they not use those things? Will I switch something up, will I not? It's all chess, but it should be a fun game."

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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