The defending Super Bowl champions might have a problem. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been dealing with elbow pain in his throwing arm that coach Sean McVay calls “abnormal” for a quarterback.
Stafford’s elbow bothered him last season and required an injection following the Super Bowl. The 34-year-old didn’t throw during the Rams’ spring workouts for precautionary reasons. McVay added that the issue is typically seen in Major League Baseball pitchers and not one he’s ever dealt with as a coach.
Stafford did throw Thursday during 7-on-7 drills, but didn’t participate in any team reps, again with his aching elbow in mind. Considering the discomfort, McVay doesn’t think Stafford will be full-go by the end of training camp on Aug. 10.
McVay told reporters the Rams’ training staff “tried some things in the offseason” to alleviate Stafford’s pain but knew they’d take a “modified approach and progressive build” to his recovery during camp.
“Could he do it? Yes,” McVay said. “Is that the best thing? We didn’t think so. And I think I’ve got a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best alignment using medical experts and talking with Matthew. And so, all of those things combined led to where we’re at right now. And it is an ever-evolving process, but we are really taking over these next couple weeks, seeing how they go.”
McVay made it clear that the Rams’ primary objective with this process is to get Stafford ready for the season opener.
“[You] want to try to have him operate in as little pain as possible,” McVay said. “I think anytime that you’ve played as long and are as tough as he is, I don’t know if you’re ever truly pain-free, but the goal would be for Sept. 8 and really looking towards 17 games then hopefully some games after that, if we earn that opportunity.
“That’s kind of the perspective and the big-picture approach that we want to be able to take. I don’t know that I would feel as comfortable taking that approach if it wasn’t for the experience that he’s accumulated and knowing how intentional he is about staying up to speed with his mental and his physical work that he can do in the absence of some of the stuff in the team settings.”
Despite injuring his elbow last season, Stafford played every game and threw for 4,886 yards, completing 67.2% of his passes for 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He then led game-winning drives in three consecutive postseason games en route to a Super Bowl victory.
McVay said Stafford “looked really good” following Thursday’s practice.
“Even in routes on air, in the types of throws where you’re really seeing all parts of the field being activated, that’s a really good thing,” McVay said. “And so I’ve definitely seen improvement. He was making those types of throws before, but being able to just do it in a smart fashion is kind of what we’re really hunting out.”
The Rams’ first preseason game with be against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 13.
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