‘That is who I believe myself to be’: Rams WR Cooper Kupp vowing to return to triple-crown form

‘That is who I believe myself to be’: Rams WR Cooper Kupp vowing to return to triple-crown form

LOS ANGELES — Cooper Kupp is two seasons removed from his triple crown — he led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and touchdown catches (16) in 2021 — and although he has missed time the past two years with injuries, the Los Angeles Rams wide receiver believes he’s capable of returning to that level of play.

“I don’t know if I would be still playing if I didn’t think that that was still who I was. That is who I believe myself to be. … I am counting on myself to get there for my teammates, they’re counting on me to be there on Sundays,” Kupp said. “And I believe that the work that I do, the things that how I prepare, all that stuff’s going to be there to be the productive player that I know that I am. And I look forward to being able to get out there this year and play some good football.”

Last season, Kupp missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury. He first sustained the injury during a training camp practice Aug. 1 and then experienced a setback before the start of the season, leading to a stint on injured reserve. He had also missed the final eight games of the 2022 season with an ankle injury.

In 12 games last season, Kupp had 59 catches for 737 yards and five touchdowns.

“Last year really bothered Cooper,” Rams general manager Les Snead said at the league meetings in March. “That’s just who he is. And he didn’t enjoy life last year. Probably almost to a fault. There’s only one detriment. He may overtrain trying to get back, but he’s definitely working hard.

“And I would bet on Cooper getting back and being healthy. And I know he really wants to. It’s those type of competitors, they almost feel guilty for not being 100 percent, but that’s life in a tough sport.”

Last year, the Rams found a receiver to pair with Kupp, drafting Puka Nacua in the fifth round. And with Kupp on the injury report to start the season, Nacua had 52 targets in those first four games. He quickly became a focus of the Rams’ offense and set the NFL rookie record for receptions and receiving yards last season.

There has been more movement in the wide receiver room this offseason. Before the start of the league year, the Rams re-signed Demarcus Robinson to a one-year deal. Los Angeles also drafted Texas receiver Jordan Whittington in the sixth round and last week traded 2021 seventh-round pick Ben Skowronek to the Houston Texans.

Robinson first signed with the Rams in June 2023, and by the end of the season, he overtook 2021 second-round pick Tutu Atwell to become Los Angeles’ No. 3 receiver. Robinson said because he came in during the middle of OTAs last year, it took him some time to learn the offense, but he was “starting to get to know the offense pretty well towards the end of the season.”

Robinson said while part of him wanted to test the free agent market after a strong end of the season, he was more tempted to re-sign with Los Angeles because he could tell how much the coaches were starting to believe in him.

“So I feel like … early in the season, I could come up and [have] a bigger role,” Robinson said.

His main competition for the third receiver spot will be Atwell, who is on the final season of his rookie deal. In 37 games, he has 57 catches for 781 yards and four touchdowns but hasn’t been a consistent weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Tyler Johnson, a 2020 fifth-round pick who spent last season with the Rams on the practice squad, could also play a role now that the Rams have traded Skowronek.

And while it would be hard to imagine Whittington playing the role that Nacua did as a rookie, coach Sean McVay thinks the former Longhorn could make an impact this season. McVay praised Whittington’s versatility as a receiver and called him “a core special teams guy,” saying, “[he] sounds like a really smart player that can do a lot of different things, and that’s really valuable for us.”

“He knew all three positions, was willing to be the third, the fourth, played all the core on special teams,” Snead said. “So it’s kind of one of those key core guys that you draft with a vision and more than likely has a role here.”

Related Articles