IRVINE, Calif. – Watching Thursday's training camp acclimation practice, one would be hard-pressed to think Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp had not started throwing together until July.
Kupp was away from spring workouts for most of the offseason program as he and his wife, Anna, awaited the birth of their third child. Los Angeles also took a precautious approach to his workload when he returned to OTAs on the heels of last season's tight-rope ankle procedure. Thus, it wasn't until throwing together a little bit in July that Stafford and Kupp had the chance to extensively do so.
Fast-forward to Thursday, and it was as if no time had been lost between them, routinely connecting in ways reminiscent of their first season together.
"That's been kind of the weird but really cool thing," Kupp said. "It's kind of felt like that from the first time he was here in '21, you know? It was just like that OTAs, it just kind of clicked. And we came out after OTAs, we were able to throw together a little bit in July, and it just felt like first time back, timing was just right there. I'm glad you guys see that. I'm glad that's coming through. It's just been something that seems like it's just kind of very natural and it's happened, and certainly, we don't take for granted that there's work that's involved in that as well. Lots of reps and time as you tone that in as well, but, yeah it is nice having that where you come back, you feel like you can you just pick up where you left off."
During team drills, Stafford connected with Kupp on a deep touchdown pass down the left sideline as Kupp got past the secondary. Stafford connected on another touchdown pass with Kupp from a shorter distance over the middle, with Kupp momentarily tipping the ball to himself to secure the catch as he ran it in. Kupp also made a difficult toe-drag sideline catch on a short Stafford pass at another point in Thursday's practice.
"It's great having him out here," Stafford said this week. "It's great having a lot of guys that kind of ended the season either banged up or had a little bit of an abbreviated season last year. So, it's nice to have them out here. We worked a bunch in the offseason in between both the OTA period and now I got a bunch of work in with a bunch of the guys so it was nice to get out here, do it against the defense, see our guys run around executing plays. It was a lot of fun."
Just because that natural rapport is already there doesn't mean there isn't work to do. The last thing Kupp wants is the two of them to have a complacent mindset.
"So for us it's like, hey, we know that we've got this natural chemistry about how we do things, but man, how much better can we be if we really are honing this thing in, if we're seeing the field the same way?" Kupp said. "It's one thing to run routes on air, it's another thing to see the field and go see it from his perspective, my perspective, put those things together and be in the right spots at the right time. As we can get that stuff going, keep building on that, that's when things get really dangerous."