For Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, things look a lot different entering 2018 OTAs than they did last year. No longer is he a rookie tasked with learning a new offense, trying to carve out a role for himself on the unit.
Instead, he comes into this season alongside many of the same players he shared success with in 2017, trying to perfect the nuances of the system instead of fully implementing them.
"I think having come back, having run this offense before, and a lot of the same guys are around, coming into OTAs it's like let's not miss a beat," Kupp said recently. "Let's hit the ground running."
And after three OTAs, the offense has been doing just that, appearing very sharp on the field even in a limited time frame. Fewer passes have been dropped, more deep balls have been completed, and more intricate play
Check out photos from day one of the Los Angeles Rams OTA.
calls are being tested out.
"Our expectations are high and so it's great to be able to look good out here right now but, when we go back in the meeting room and we're watching film there is a lot of stuff to correct, a lot of stuff that isn't up to our standards," Kupp admitted. "So, continuing to correct that throughout the OTAs is going to be huge for us."
Kupp believes the reason for the immense progress early on lies in the fact that many of the skill players were able to get together during the offseason — meeting to work on throwing and route-running drills on their own time.
"Being in L.A. we have the luxury of guys com[ing] here to train anyways, so most of our guys were sticking around," he said. "I got to see 10, 15 guys on the offensive side of the ball just about every single day through training or on our own."
"Even if it was just for two days a week, being able to get out there and go through our verbiage, our routes, and just continue to build that chemistry and timing — that's a big deal," Kupp continued. "That was a big luxury for us."
Kupp is hopeful that the bond forged throughout the offseason will continue to carry over into OTAs, minicamp, and eventually training camp. Before the regular season kicks off in August, the Eastern Washington product would like to see the offense build up their timing and mastery of the system.
And while he was quick to admit that "much of football is imperfect," he does believe these OTAs represent a
chance for the unit to become even more potent — able to anticipate and adapt at the line of scrimmage.
"In this offense, if you have guys that understand that, know the responsibilities of the entire offense, you can be really efficient by being able to play off each other," he said. "I think that's a big thing that by the time OTAs get done, [we should] really be able to feel that from the O-line, to the tight ends, to the receiving room, to the backs — across the board that we're one team and one unit out there."
"Being able to play as 11, but being able to look like one solid unit. I think that will be good coming out of OTAs and moving into training camp, just continue to grow in that," Kupp finished.
And that goal will only be pushed forward considering the top-tier talent the offense will get to go up against on its own practice field.
"I think that's a huge thing for us is just being able to get those reps, and go against some really good football players," Kupp said. "I think as an offense and speaking for the offensive side of the ball, we're going to be so much better just because of the guys we get to go against every single day. We have a pretty neat opportunity there."