SEATTLE — Wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp have been difference makers for Los Angeles' offense throughout the first portion of the 2018 season. But both left Sunday 33-31 victory over Seattle and did not return with concussions.
It was unclear when Kupp suffered his, but Cooks' came on a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half. On 1st-and-15 from the L.A. 12-yard line, quarterback Jared Goff fired a pass on the right side to Cooks for 18 yards and a first down. Cooks fumbled after being hit hard, and the Seahawks recovered. But a defensive holding penalty kept the ball in the Rams' possession.
Cooks would not play another snap in the game. And when L.A. came out of the locker room for the second half, Kupp was being evaluated for his concussion and was unable to return.
Fortunately, after the game head coach Sean McVay said both Cooks and Kupp appeared to be in good spirits.
"Other than the fact that they are doing well right now — they'll be in the protocol, but in-terms of the way that they checked out, signs are pointing in a positive direction, if that means anything," McVay said. "I know that if you're still experiencing those symptoms, then that's when you're starting to get concerned. Those guys feel good, they were having normal conversations, just seeing them in the locker room."
With both Cooks and Kupp out, L.A. had to make significant offensive adjustments — given how often both of those wide receivers are on the field for the club. The Rams continued to almost exclusively use '11' personnel — one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers — but subbed in second-year wideout Josh Reynolds and undrafted rookie KhaDarel Hodge.
Both acquitted themselves well in extended action. Reynolds finished with two receptions for 39 yards, and one carry on a jet sweep for 10 yards. Hodge also made his first career reception, sliding to make a second-down catch in L.A. territory early in the fourth quarter for 14 yards and a first down.
"With Josh, we had a similar situation last year with Robert — where he had to leave for a few games with the injury — and Josh came in and stepped up, and with him I was very confident," Goff said. "With KhaDarel, he didn't have true playing experience in the regular season and I was very confident. I saw what he did in the preseason, didn't get many reps with him, but I understood that he is a good player, he knew what he was doing, smart — he didn't ask too many questions, he knew what we were doing offensively. … Those guys, I'm so proud of both of them for stepping up."
"It's unfortunate our two receivers went down, but just coming up and Josh Reynolds and KhaDarel coming in, making plays — I came in and told them, 'That's what we call a unit,'" Woods said, noting that the Rams have "guys come in, step in, and still make plays — big-time plays. Josh came in, right away made an impact. KhaDarel on [second] down — big-time plays, coming in, stepping up. And that's what you call a complete unit, guys stepping in and making plays."
Check out in-game photos from the Rams week 5 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
But Reynolds and Hodge weren't the only ones to do so. Goff noted that Woods ended up playing Kupp's position on the offense in the second half, which made a significant difference. Woods finished Sunday with five receptions for 92 yards.
"He switched positions and played Cooper's position for the rest of the game and for him to — it's not unexpected, but I've been around some receivers that wouldn't be able to seamlessly switch positions and know everything, and not even have a problem with anything," Goff said. "And again, just very proud of him and very proud of everyone."
"Moving around, playing different positions — really, all the guys, just trying to accommodate for the guys who did go down," Woods said of his second half. "But just trying to make plays — keep the flow, and still make plays lead this team, lead this unit. But these guys are capable of making these plays."