Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp made his debut against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles today, and team sources revealed Saturday night that Kupp is ready to “go all out.”
This is a big positive sign for a receiver who has been dealing with a hamstring injury. For weeks while Kupp recovered, I was told the team felt like it was two quarterbacks on the practice field, Matthew Stafford and Kupp vs. rookie standout Puka Nakua and the Rams of other pass catchers to work with. Kupp was instrumental in explaining and guiding the team through different scenarios.
Here’s a brief recap of Kupp’s week ending today, as shared with me from a team source.
Wednesday: The Rams had an easy game, with Kupp back on the field for about half of the offensive snaps. He caught a few good balls and made a few full-on tackles.
Thursday: Kupp is listed as an official participant, but the Rams are keeping him cautious. The Rams had some concerns about practice because Kupp aggravated his hamstring from practice a few weeks ago. With that in mind, I’m told Cooper looked sharp and even caught it with one hand. As for those deeper routes, he’s close to max speed and can reach plenty of distance.
Friday: Kupp moved around the practice field without any issues or limitations. I was told he looked smooth.
This will be the first time Stafford has thrown the ball to Kupp and Nakua (who leads the NFL in catches and targets) in the same game, and Stafford is excited to get his ace back. Even without Kupp, the quarterback has thrown for 1,330 passing yards in four games. With Sean McVay’s offensive brilliance restoring Kupp’s ability, the Rams offense could shine.
Jonathan Taylor returns to the Colts on a new three-year deal worth $42 million, but don’t expect a running back to be released on Sunday. A team source said the Colts would be wise to use Taylor, considering he hasn’t played since last season with an ankle injury. The Colts will count on him and increase his workload over the next month.
I’m told that good communication between the Colts and Taylor’s agent helped seal the $14 million per year deal. When I look at the past few weeks, I always sense a calmness between both parties. In fact, one source texted, “cooler heads will prevail.” I asked Taylor’s manager, Malki Kawa, how he did it? He replied: “Leverage. He’s the best defender in the league.”
Jonathan Taylor had a rare win for an NFL RB. How will his extension affect the RB market?
“I don’t care what is said or what happens, Jonathan Taylor is not going to play without a new contract,” a source from the Titans (their AFC South rival and today’s opponent) texted Friday.
He probably knew something!
The Colts never had any serious trade conversations or even an offer from a team when they knew the running back was available. The Dolphins and Packers did discuss the issue internally, but nothing came of it. One NFL front office executive who has discussed the possibility of trading Taylor with his own organization told me that trade compensation is not an issue for them; it’s the new high-money trade Taylor is seeking. The executive believes this is a problem faced by many teams.
Joe Burrow is clearly not close to 100 percent healthy yet, as his right calf is ailing. He was unable to plant and drive. Burrow’s health is still a few weeks away, according to team sources, but we may see some improvement this afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals. Another team source said it was a better week for the Bengals and things improved in Dallas. Burrow has more mobility in practice and the Bengals are expected to open up their plays even further today.
But my colleague and former QB Chase Daniel noted that another challenge Burrow faces is the time commitment involved in treating the calf. Caregiving requires time away from film work, practice, and even sleep. It all adds up.
I asked one league source: “Can he really run the ball and extend plays like he can out of the pocket?”
They replied: “Not really.”
Despite the improvement, it will be some time before Burrow truly plays like himself.
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Vikings pay attention to Mahomes for first time
The Minnesota Vikings haven’t played the Kansas City Chiefs since the 2019 season, and the Chiefs had Matt Moore under center that day instead of Patrick Mahomes. So while Kansas City has had prominence and success during the Mahomes and Andy Reid era, what the Vikings see today will be new.
Minnesota safety and captain Josh Metellus told me on the phone after Saturday’s practice that the Vikings watched film from last Sunday’s game against the Jets and it was a good reminder that Don’t be intimidated by the Chiefs’ offensive prowess.
“Defensively, you’re fascinated by what guys like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are doing and the different offenses that Andy Reid likes to run,” Metellus said. “For us, the game is going to be played very fast. It’s all about being fast. Like I said, you can get obsessed with what’s going on. You might find yourself watching rather than playing, and our Coach has been doing a great job of putting us in positions where we can play fast and not have to think too much.”
Since Mahomes started in 2018, Mahomes and Kelce have combined for 513 receptions, 6,474 yards and 48 touchdowns in 81 regular season games.
The Ravens have dealt with significant injuries across the field, but their overall health has improved over the past week with the return of receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman . Between the injuries at the Ravens’ outside linebacker position and the Steelers’ injuries at the offensive line position, it’s going to be a chess game for both coordinators in the passing game. Look for Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to use his pressure package to test Kenny Pickett’s injured knee and attack the Steelers’ porous offensive line.
Christian McCaffrey averages 25 touches per game, and the Cowboys defense knows he’s a huge challenge. I’m told that in the Cowboys’ defensive meetings this week, they focused on snapping, making sure their speed was utilized and their players were in swarming positions. As one team source texted, “CMC makes people miss, so everyone’s effort and speed are critical to minimizing gains after the catch.”
Defenses will also look to disrupt Brock Purdy’s rhythm and timing with his pass catchers.
Cowboys vs. 49ers, Week 5: Big NFC matchups, key matchups and predictions
Three trades completed in two days later this week, Randy Gregory to 49ers, Chase Claypool to Dolphins, J.C. Jackson Join the Patriots. They are all dissatisfied players looking for a new home and only need minimal compensation to get it.
With the league’s Oct. 31 trade just over three weeks away, teams that consider themselves contenders may want to add talent, while teams that don’t contend may want to increase draft capital. After discussions with league sources, here are some early conversations:
• Since cutting Chandler Jones, the Raiders have been busy searching around the league for a pass rusher. They are looking for a player-for-player swap and may not want to give up too much.
• Carolina has been shopping around at wide receiver and other positions. The Panthers have signaled to other teams that they are not interested in trading players for draft picks.
• The Texans have fielded calls from teams looking for a veteran quarterback, but I’m told Case Keenum is unavailable as Houston relies on his experience and veteran leadership in the quarterback room.
• At this time, I’m told the Broncos have no plans to move any offensive players. That’s despite receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton drawing trade interest this offseason.
(Top photo of Cooper Kupp:
Taylor Shank/Clarkson Creative/)
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