THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Rams' offense will be getting a major boost this weekend.
Rams head coach Sean McVay on Friday said wide receiver Cooper Kupp will play on Sunday against the Eagles (1:05 p.m. PT, FOX).
"He's looked like Cooper, which is a good thing," McVay said. "He's put a lot of work in. You can't really ever simulate the game in these practice settings, especially once you get a quarter of the way into the season, but he's very comfortable. He's so conscientious. He looks like he's moving around really well. Seeing good things between he and (quarterback) Matthew (Stafford) with a lot of their nonverbal communication. Just having his presence out there is definitely a boost. I'm really happy for him because of how important it is to be out there and with his teammates and to be able to feel physically like he's himself. If that's the case, then usually the rest of his takes care of itself."
For Kupp, it will mark his first regular season action since Week 10 of the 2022 season – or November 13, 2022. It was on that day against the Cardinals he suffered a season-ending high ankle sprain that required surgery. Despite being limited to nine games as a result of that, he still managed to lead the team in receptions (75), receiving yards (812) and receiving touchdowns (6) in 2022.
Kupp then injured his hamstring early on in training camp this year, returned for joint practices with the Broncos in the preseason, then re-aggravated the hamstring injury prior to the start of the regular season.
McVay in early September said that setback with Kupp's hamstring "really just didn't go in alignment with when those things occur and other situations and under similar circumstances," which prompted Kupp to see a specialist in Minnesota last month to get to the root of the soft tissue issues he was experiencing. Kupp returned to practice on Wednesday.
"I think it was one of those things where you have a setback in the middle of rehab, or feel like you're coming back and you have a setback, well shoot, I want to make sure we're clearing everything, make sure that we're covering all of our bases before we just go back to doing the same thing as before," Kupp said Friday, when asked about the specialist visit. "Once we got that kind of figured out and were able to do a whole big-picture view of it, feel good about the plan we had set forward and we just followed it and got back here."
Asked whether he sees any significant changes to Kupp's workload on Sunday, McVay said "we'll see how it goes." While McVay said that once Kupp gets going, "you want to be smart about it," but he's also happy with the way Kupp's rehab program was structured.
"I think (Rams Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie and his group have done a really good job of kind of just building up his progression, if you will," McVay said. "There's nothing quite like replicating the competitiveness and the the tempo that occurs on game day, but there'll be something that we want to be careful about. But I don't know. I think it'll be a lot of that communication in terms of how he's feeling as well, because he has such a good ability to do that with myself and the rest of our coaches. And then observations will help us."
It also helps that the Rams have the depth to potentially work around that, if needed.
"The beauty of it is, with him being out, there's been a lot of guys that have stepped up and we've been able to develop some depth and guys have earned the right to get out on the field and contribute," McVay said. "I think that's helpful for the Rams, and I think that's helpful for those guys if they don't feel like they have to play every snap."
Kupp likewise is looking forward to finally being back on the field on Sunday and making his 2023 season debut.
"Shoot man, it's gonna be great to be back in SoFi, back playing a game again," Kupp said. "It's been a long time since I played a real football game. Man, I'm so excited about that."
Meanwhile, McVay said the Rams will also active rookie outside linebacker Ochaun Mathis off of IR in advance of Sunday's game.
Noteboom out for Week 5, but Jackson expected to play
McVay also said Joe Noteboom (groin) will be out for this Sunday's game against the Eagles. However, Alaric Jackson, who missed last Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, is expected to start against the Eagles.
McVay indicated rookie Warren McClendon Jr. will likely back up Jackson at left tackle.