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"That's got to be done by committee": Collective effort needed from Rams receivers to make up for absence of Cooper Kupp

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has accounted for 37.8 percent of their receiving yards and had a 30.9 percent target share in their offense, according to FootballOutsiders.

Now, they must figure out how to make up for the loss of that with Kupp (ankle) being placed on Injured Reserve.

"Obviously, you never ever replace a player like Cooper Kupp, but we've got to figure out the best way to accentuate the skill sets of the guys that will be playing," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "It's a lot of guys that we'll be continuing to learn about because until you play in these types of games, you don't really know."

Pre-injury, Kupp led Los Angeles in receptions (75), receiving yards (812) and receiving touchdowns. Post-injury, this is how the rest of the Rams' receivers shake out statistically:

  • Tight end Tyler Higbee: 44 catches, 385 yards
  • Allen Robinson II: 29 catches, 292 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Ben Skowronek: 26 catches, 245 yards
  • Brandon Powell: 10 catches, 74 yards
  • Tutu Atwell: one catch, 54 yards
  • Van Jefferson: 3 catches, 27 yards, 1 touchdown

Given that contrast in production, it's not surprising that Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen said a group effort would be needed to absorb the loss of Kupp.

"Obviously a big loss in terms of a guy that's just done so many good things for this organization right now and was playing at a pretty high level," Coen said Thursday. "Obviously, a ton of production over the course of this year so far, that's got to be done by committee. It's got to be done by a group of guys that can take on this challenge in a way of an opportunity for them to come in and step up in a big-time spotlight and a big moment for us and their careers and our situation as an offense. Some guys need to step up, they will."

It is a big challenge, but one that Rams wide receivers are up for. Robinson said it's up to them to make the extra effort to ensure no drop-off.

"As a group, we got to just come together and make sure that we're picking it up and making plays as a group," Robinson said. "Again, I think the thing for us would just be straining to make plays – that's tough catches, tough whatever, making sure that we're doing everything on our part, preparing, and also go out there executing and making tough ways."

The Rams have had to adjust to their offense without Kupp before. In 2018, Kupp sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, forcing other receivers to step up.

Coen was part of that 2018 staff – he was in his first of two seasons as assistant wide receivers coach. The big difference – besides Kupp's ankle injury recovery timeline being 5-6 weeks rather than season-ending – was that the Rams had greater continuity at wide receiver in terms of the rapport then-quarterback Jared Goff had with then-receivers Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds. That's not the case at this moment, given Robinson's involvement to this point, Jefferson playing only his third game this season after being activated off of IR in Week 8, Atwell's limited usage and being inactive for three games, and Skowronek occassionally some time as an I-formation fullback out of 11 personnel.

The one commonality, though, was that a number of different receivers stepped up – which will need to be the case again now.

"I think everyone knows how important Cooper Kupp is to just this whole offense," Jefferson said. "But for us as receivers, we just got to pick up the pace and try to do the best we can."

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