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"Iron sharpens iron": Woods, Kupp share in each other's success

They each enter their fourth season with the Rams, having established themselves as two of quarterback Jared Goff's most trusted pass-catching targets.

And yet, for all the success wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have enjoyed in Los Angeles since 2017, numbers have never negatively impacted their friendship. It's an "iron-sharpens-iron" relationship, as one reporter described it earlier this month, in which both players sincerely care about seeing the other succeed.

"Their friendship enables them to really push one another in a positive way," Rams head coach Sean McVay said during an Aug. 6 video conference. "I mean they're pushing each other, don't get me wrong, but it's a nice competitiveness, where they are really sharpening one another, as you (KABC-TV reporter Curt Sandoval) said."

Perhaps the greatest example of this can be found in what Woods and Kupp both accomplished as recently as last season.

Returning from a 2018 season-ending ACL injury, Kupp led the Rams in receptions (94), receiving yards (1,161) and touchdowns (10) while Woods posted 90 catches for 1,134 yards and two scores after being the team's 2018 leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.

"Him coming back, I think it was just like a one, two, three punch," Woods said during an Aug. 6 video conference. "Me and Cooper, really just being dominant on our side of the ball, no slack off when we are in rotation and really, we're all number one receivers and that's what we like to think. We want to be out there and make plays no matter where the ball is going. We're all finishing to the end zone. Happy to have Cooper healthy, like I said, strong and ready to run."

Kupp, meanwhile, would be the first to tell you that Woods has been an integral part of his NFL success thus far.

"I've got so much respect for Rob," Kupp said during an Aug. 7 video conference. "I've, personally, learned more from Rob than I have any receiver."

The Eastern Washington product said he has been studying NFL receivers since high school and regards Woods as "one of the best receivers in the league, in terms of his ability to do everything."

While Woods' ability to play every receiver spot and run diverse routes has impressed Kupp, what resonates with him the most is Woods' willingness to share as the two have built trust.

"It's just the willingness to play off each other and be able to ask questions – there's never any feeling of like we need to know more than the other guy. It's always, we always want to learn," Kupp said. "Even if I feel like I've run the route the best that I possibly can, I'm going to ask him, 'How would you have run this? What's another way you can run this route?'. As you do this, as you build this up, it's like, 'Okay, no matter how many looks we get -- whether it's a block we need to get to, whether it's inserting to help spring our running back or it's a route we are running against three carry or different leverages.' It's like, 'Let's find a way to run this route three, four, five different ways and be successful'.

"Being able to run these things and bounce them off of Rob, who's just a receiver that I have so much respect for, it really helps make that really easy and just his willingness also to just take advice as well."

This season, Kupp will be vying for his second-straight 1,000-yard season; Woods, his third. Goff is doing his part to help them reach those marks by making three 1,000-yard pass-catchers one of his goals this season.

Whether one or both of Kupp and Woods accomplish the feat, this much is clear: They will celebrate the same regardless.

"Especially at that receiver position, where there's only so many touches to go around, sometimes somebody else's success means somebody else isn't getting the most touches and they've never felt anything but real, genuine, happiness for one another," McVay said. "I think their success has been reflective of that, because they've both equally been extremely productive for us and I think that's been a huge part of the success of the Rams' offense each of the last few years, both those two."

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