THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The familiar No. 9 was back on the Rams' practice field on Wednesday, along with a new soft brace around his right thumb.
The latter, quarterback Matthew Stafford said, is merely preventative. He got a full workload, and is expected to do so today and Friday as he gears up for his return from that thumb injury that sidelined him against the Packers in Week 9.
"Yeah, I practiced fully so that was good," Stafford said after Wednesday's practice, speaking to reporters for the first time since he hurt his thumb against the Cowboys in Week 8. "It's good to be out there. I haven't been out there obviously in a couple weeks, so it was kind of nice to just get back out there and get my feet wet again, literally and figuratively. It was good to be back out there."
Stafford said he thought the thumb injury was worse than it actually turned out to be. He said he hit his thumb on three plays during that game – once on a pass to wide receiver Puka Nacua in the back of the endzone, a second time on the Rams' first two-point play when he hit it on a helmet, and a third time on the two-point conversion pass he caught from wide receiver Tutu Atwell.
"Dove in, my thumb kind of just got caught on the ball as everything went forward, and it pulled it in a not fun direction," Stafford said.
Stafford said when he came back to the sideline after the third play, his thumb starting hurting, so he held a football just to keep his thumb in a good place and "keep it moving so it didn't get too stiff." He tried to grab the ball and didn't have any strength and "was pretty worried about it." Ultimately, it turned out to be a sprained UCL in his right thumb.
When was he first able to grip the football the way he wanted to?
"Still working on it," Stafford said with a smile. "No, I feel pretty confident in my ability to go out there and play at a pretty high level."
Rams head coach Sean McVay likewise said earlier this week he expects Stafford to start against the Seahawks. And with Stafford practicing fully again on Thursday, he is trending in the right direction.
"It's been great," wide receiver Cooper Kupp said. "Love having Matthew out there. Yeah, you definitely miss that, the communication, the ability to have been in this offense to communicate stuff and just the command that he has. Obviously he's called the plays quite a bit for us, so even just from the huddle, having him in there, the comfortability there, it goes a long way just starting the play off how you want to."