Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s sore elbow issue continues to make things very uncomfortable in Rams training camp, even as coach Sean McVay tries to talk about the situation with the glass half full.
On Wednesday, McVay explained at the start of a news conference that Stafford will not participate in team drills for now.
“This is part of the plan that we think is best for him,” McVay said. “So it’s a great opportunity for John Wolford and Bryce [Perkins] so they can get a lot more reps than they would otherwise. Matthew will stay engaged and that’s the plan that we think is best at this time.”
McVay refused to call it a setback. But how could it be anything other than a setback that the defending Super Bowl champion’s starting quarterback didn’t participate in team drills at training camp?
“It’s consistent with what’s been going on,” McVay said. “What’s more, when you really look at the whole thing, you want to try to have him operated on as painlessly as possible. I think any time you’ve played this long and you’re as tough as him, I don’t know if you’ll ever really be pain-free, but the goal would be for September 8th and really expect 17 games and hopefully a few games after that. That is if we earn that opportunity. That is the perspective and the general approach that we want to be able to take. I don’t know if I’d be as comfortable taking that approach if it wasn’t for the experience he’s built up and knowing how intentional he is to keep up with the mental and physical work he can do in absentia. of some of the things in the team settings.”
How concerned is McVay that this problem will persist into the regular season?
“You could [have that concern]McVay said. “I think that’s one of those things we talk about where, ‘Hey, all we can do is what we can control.’ We believe this is the best approach we can take. Is there a chance that conversation could take place? Of course. But based on the medical experts and the plan to talk to Matthew, this is what we think is best. I am optimistic that it will give us the best opportunity to make you feel your best. Would you say, ‘Hey, you’d love for me to have no problems and be here playing and doing all these reps’? Of course. But this is what we think is best. This is one of those deals where you take your own advice where, ‘Hey, let’s be here in the moment, let’s take it one day at a time,’ and I thought we improved as a team today and we’re getting some encouraging things. I think you have to be careful about saying, ‘Okay, well, it’s only been a couple of days,’ but I think for us to really be able to give it a week, two weeks, is where you give it enough time to really see…’ Okay, this new plan that we’ve put in place is getting results, which we’re looking for.’ I think everyone feels good about that and that’s the plan we’re going to follow for the next two weeks.”
McVay said he “doesn’t think” there is a scenario that involves Stafford skipping all team activities until the week of preparation for the opener against the Bills begins.
“What we’ve really said at this point is we’re really going to do it for the next two weeks, really until we’re out of here because we have this four-day lockdown, and then another three days before you end up going back to [Cal Lutheran]McVay said. “So we’ve taken the approach that we’ll reevaluate once we get there before that first preseason game, and then we’ll see where we’re at there and I’ll have updates for you guys accordingly.”
Obviously, Stafford would prefer that this not be the situation.
“He wants to be there and do everything,” McVay said, “but that’s where you have to say, ‘Okay, let’s really take a step back. What do we think is the best way to follow our own advice and be as healthy as possible and ready for September 8?’ That was really what I thought would be the best as a competitor. He will always want to continue being here, be with his teammates. But he’s so intentional with his approach that you feel good about it. That’s the situation we find ourselves in, so we’ll handle it the best we can.”
Bottom line? Stafford’s elbow, which prevented him from throwing this offseason, remains a problem. For now, they are trying to find a way to prepare it without making things worse. It remains to be seen if this approach will adequately prepare you and if the limited workload will prevent things from getting worse.
Either way, it’s definitely something the Rams need to keep monitoring. The road back to the Super Bowl becomes that much harder to navigate if Stafford can’t pitch the way he’d like, or if he ultimately can’t play at all.