When wide receiver Robert Woods was ruled out for Sunday's contest with a shoulder injury, questions began to swirl as to who would replace the Rams' most productive wideout.
Would it be Sammy Watkins, the veteran receiver and proven deep-threat traded to Los Angeles in early August? Could Tavon Austin be given the chance to revert back to a more traditional wideout after being used in non-traditional ways throughout this season? Or would it be Pharoh Cooper, who has excelled as both a punt and kick returner in 2017?
As it turns out, the answer was none of the above.
In Week 12, head coach Sean McVay turned to two of the team's rookie receivers — Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds — to contribute in Woods' place.
"I think we had guys step up," quarterback Jared Goff said. "Robert Woods goes down — our highest-production guy right now — and having Josh step up and then Cooper doing what he did [was great]."
Kupp had a career day, recording eight catches for 116 yards, marking the receiver's first game with over 100-yards receiving. It was a redemption game of sorts for the Eastern Washington product, who bounced back after a poor performance against the Vikings last week.
"I think it's just who he is as a human being. There was no doubt that he was going to respond in the right way," McVay said. "[I'm] not surprised at all — just proud of Cooper."
"It's football," Kupp said. "Go around this room and ask people what football has been like for them in terms of the ups and downs. I think that's the great thing about this game — when things don't go your way, you have to be willing to get back up on the horse."
And Kupp did exactly that on Sunday, stringing together a series of big plays throughout the game, including a 53-yard over-the-shoulder catch on a beautiful deep ball from Goff.
"There's never any doubts with him," Goff said of the play. "He played really well today. That deep ball was a really, really good route by him. Man coverage, and he ran a really good route."
The play set up the Rams' third scoring drive of the day — a touchdown hauled in by Reynolds for his first career trip into the endzone.
On 2nd-and-7 from the New Orleans' seven-yard line, Goff dropped back and hit Reynolds in the back of the endzone. The Texas A&M product said he didn't think the ball was coming to him, but was able to dive and haul the ball in.
"[We] had what's called 'Drop eight' — they rushed three and dropped eight [into coverage]. Most of the time when that happens, it's going to be an off-schedule throw." Goff said. "And I saw him go over the ball over the middle, saw a linebacker on him with his back turned, and kind of pointed to him, 'Go that way.' And sure enough, he did, and was open."
"The play was definitely not designed to go to me and that's probably one of the last plays I ever thought I would get the ball on," Reynolds echoed with a laugh. "[But] to be able to get a touchdown in your first start and then to be able to win that game, it's amazing."
Reynolds capped off the touchdown with a Lion King-esque celebration, raising the football high over his head as if he was Rafiki, proudly displaying Simba to the Coliseum crowd.
"I tried my best on it, it was a little rushed, but I tried to have some fun," he said. "It just kind of popped up to me. Once I figured out I had the starting job this week I was dedicated to try to score, so I had to have something planned."
Reynolds finished the game with four catches for 37 yards and was instrumental in the Rams' fourth quarter scoring drive, making a 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-9 to extend the series.
"Those are always big plays to be able to keep a drive going especially when a game is so close like that and we needed that first down," Reynolds said. "It was awesome."
Check out in-game photos from the Rams' Week 12 matchup with the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum.
Overall, McVay said he was proud of the way both young players stepped up, especially in such a big game..
"We are always looking forward to seeing some of these young guys step up in the absence of a great player like Robert Woods, and I thought that's exactly what Josh did today," he said.
"[Kupp's] just continuing to get better and better," McVay added. "He and Jared have a really good rapport. And he's going to continue to be a big part of our offense for years to come."