Matthew Stafford aims to return to Rams in 2023, more updates on exit interviews

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The big headline from the Rams facilities lately revolves around head coach Sean McVay’s pending decision on whether to take a break from coaching in 2023.

McVay said Monday, just hours after the Rams’ dreary 2022 season officially ended, that he hasn’t made a decision yet — this aligns with what team and league sources have been telling me in recent days — but is planning to do this the coming days or weeks after you’ve really taken your time to process it.

He met with assistant coaches in the mornings as players stuffed the contents of their lockers into large bags to take home at the start of the offseason.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford reiterated from his locker Monday that he has no plans to retire, adding that either way McVay’s decision will not affect his own status.

“I just keep talking to him, be there for him,” Stafford said. “Keep supporting him and whatever is best for him. He gave a lot to this organization, a lot to us as players. I imagine being a head coach is a tough job. I think he’s going to take some time to figure out what’s best for him and what’s best for this team to move forward. We will support him in whatever he wants to do.”

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Additional notes from a series of exit interviews with Rams players on Monday:

• Stafford also noted that he believes he will have a fully healthy offseason, which would really be the first time since arriving in Los Angeles, having had a thumb problem before 2021 and then an elbow injury through 2021 and 2022. That season he was on concussion protocol and seeing specialists in Pittsburgh and then suffered a spinal cord contusion.

“I don’t want to go through that again,” said Stafford of the latter injury, which left his legs numb. “Probably just trying to figure it out why it happened, that was the biggest thing for me.”

• Receiver Cooper Kupp said he is on track with his rehab after walking a tightrope in mid-November with a high ankle sprain.

“I think the coaches… all have a good feeling about where we are,” he said. “I feel like we’re getting on well with things and at the end of the day I just want to get to this place here so I can get back to training and doing the football things I love again. ”

Kupp said he was given the tightrope walk because it was more of a permanent fix for his injury.

“The options are either doing nothing or having it fixed,” he said. “At the end of the day I think the best thing for a player seems to be that if you can’t fix it things can kind of linger. … I think that was the right decision for me. I guess I had no choice but to have it fixed.”

• Cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he could play for many more weeks and feel fine, but that he has to undergo a second shoulder surgery to repair the other AC joint he injured in 2021. Ramsey underwent surgery on his left shoulder over the summer to repair the same injury and will now opt to have surgery on the other after attempting to heal it non-surgically.

“It’s nothing special for me,” he said. “It is what it is. We’re going to do it right, and we’re going to go from there.

• Left stacker Alaric Jackson missed the second half of the season with a blood clot. Jackson played well at right flank when Coleman Shelton was injured, then switched to tackle at left after starter Joe Noteboom, who received a contract extension last spring, suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Jackson is taking medication for the blood clots and says he’s had positive feedback from his doctors. He will have another update in mid-February believing he can return to the field. If so, he could be a future cornerstone for the Rams in left tackle, his preferred position.

“Honestly, I love playing on the left side,” he said. “Tackle is mostly my thing. From what I understand they paid Joe, so I get the whole part. But whatever I can do for the team, I will do for the team.”

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Leonard Floyd (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today)

• Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd’s slow start to the year was due to a severe hyperextension of his knee that scared his teammates in practice earlier in the year. He didn’t feel healthy until after the Rams’ farewell week, he said, but then also addressed issues with his surgically repaired ankle (Floyd played through a serious ankle injury in 2021). Floyd finished the season with nine sacks and didn’t miss a game and also played 85 percent of total defensive snaps. By late 2022, Floyd was essentially the last man standing in a pass rush group that was sans Aaron Donald and also had the two outside linebackers who would emerge as starters against Floyd, Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis, cut.

“It was like I ended up alone,” Floyd said. “It was an opportunity for me to play with the young people and work with them and help them.”

• Rookie Rams safety Russ Yeast suffered a contused lung in Sunday’s game and was hospitalized overnight in Seattle. McVay said Yeast is stable and improving and should return to Los Angeles on Monday. Defensive back coaches Chris Shula and Jonathan Cooley stayed with Yeast in the hospital, and Ramsey visited him after the game.

“It’s scary, especially what happened to Damar (Hamlin) last week,” said safety Jordan Fuller, who was on injured reserve and did not travel. “It seemed like a similar piece, which is kind of scary. I didn’t know it happened until we had a group (video call) after the game, the DBs. Certain guys were with him in the hospital. I texted him today to let me know if he needs anything. I’m glad he’s doing well.”

• The Rams signed the following players to futures contracts: tight end Roger Carter, defensive backs TJ Carter and Richard LeCounte, defensive ends TJ Carter, Brayden Thomas and Zach VanValkenburg, tackle Max Pircher and receivers Jaquarii Roberson and Jerreth Sterns.

(Top Photo by Matthew Stafford: Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

https://theathletic.com/4073816/2023/01/09/rams-exit-interviews-matthew-stafford-sean-mcvay/ Matthew Stafford aims to return to Rams in 2023, more updates on exit interviews

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