Rams star receiver Cooper Kupp, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, will not play in the opener Sunday at Seattle, coach Sean McVay said Wednesday.
“This is something that we probably thought was going to be the situation for a while now,” McVay said before practice. “So this isn’t anything new to us. But rather just put it to bed, not have to continue to answer questions and want to be able to get Cooper back when he’s ready to go.”
The question is whether the Rams will put Kupp on injured reserve, sidelining him for at least four games. Those include games against the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts.
Kupp would be able to return Oct. 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles at SoFi Stadium.
“It’s a possibility we’ll look into that,” McVay said. “We want to be able to just kind of give him a little bit of time. We don’t have to make that decision quite yet.”
Without Kupp, the Rams' receiving corps could include Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua or Ben Skowronek as starters.
“My job really doesn't change much,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “It's, 'Hey, go out there and throw the ball where it's supposed to be thrown, accurately and on time. And let those guys do what they do because we've got some talented guys on the outside that can make plays both down the field and after the catch.' ”
“We've had a lot of work with the group that's going to lay for the last handful of months,” McVay added. “I’m really looking forward to just being able to just go shoot our shot and see what happens.”
The Rams also be without backup quarterback Stetson Bennett, who was held out of practice Monday because of what McVay said was a right-shoulder issue.
Brett Rypien will be Stafford’s backup against the Seahawks. The Rams will explore signing a third quarterback, but not for the game against the Seahawks, McVay said.
The loss of Kupp is a major blow for a Rams team attempting to rebound from last season’s 5-12 finish. It’s the latest setback for Kupp, the 2021 offensive player of the year who suffered a season-ending ankle injury last year and was sidelined because of the hamstring injury for most of training camp and the preseason.
“I know he’s going to do everything he can to be as good as he possibly can, as quick as he can,” Stafford said. “He’s as good a professional as I’ve ever been around when it comes to taking care of his body and trying to get himself right.
“So I know it’s disappointing for him, I’m sure, to not be out there but I know he’s doing everything he possibly can to get back quickly, which is part of what makes him such a great teammate.”
Kupp did not practice last week because of what McVay had described as a muscle strain. He traveled to Minnesota last weekend for an evaluation and treatment by soft-tissue specialists.
Kupp, 30, has come back from several injuries during his career.
In 2018, he missed the Rams’ run to Super Bowl LIII because of a season-ending knee injury. In 2020, he suffered another knee injury that forced him to sit out an NFC divisional-round defeat to the Green Bay Packers.
Kupp sat out the final eight games last season because of the ankle injury, which required surgery. He did not participate in the offseason workout program — which is voluntary — so he could be with his family as they expected a third child.
On Aug. 1, Kupp suffered a hamstring injury during a camp drill. He practiced three times last week, including twice in joint workouts with the Denver Broncos. He said that he was on pace to be ready for the opener.
“Feel good about what kind of path we're on now,” he told reporters.
The Rams were feeling anything but good Wednesday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.