One day after league sources said that wide receiver Van Jefferson wouldn’t play Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills, the Los Angeles Rams officially ruled him out. Jefferson didn’t practice this week and is still recovering from a second knee surgery on the same one he had repaired this offseason.
The next big questions facing the Rams: When will Jefferson return, and how will they replace him?
How the Rams will proceed without Van Jefferson
While Jefferson is “not ready to go,” currently, per a league source, he is expected to be back as soon as the second or third game of the year.
“He’s making good progress,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “We’re taking it a day at a time with Van, kind of like what we said. That’s where we’re at with that.”
Jefferson caught 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season after 19-220-1 receiving line as a rookie. He added four catches for 23 yards in a Super Bowl victory and nine catches for 102 yards in four playoff games last year.
That leaves a void in the Rams’ receiving corps, even one as talented as LA’s, with Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson as the mainstays.
Although there will be something of a committee approach to fill in for Jefferson, there’s one primary option to step in and, hopefully, step up.
That’s wide receiver Ben Skowronek, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound former seventh-round draft pick from Notre Dame. He only caught 11 passes for 133 yards last season, but Year 2 could be his opportunity to become a legitimate target.
The other possibilities for Los Angeles include Tutu Atwell, Brandon Powell, and Lance McCutcheon. However, Skowronek, per sources, has impressed the Rams with his physical style and improving play speed.
The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native has earned the Rams coaching staff’s confidence. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen said that Skowronek “is giving you a little bit of that Robert Woods vibe” as far as hands, contested catches, and tracking the football.
As for Atwell, he’s undersized, but he’s extremely fast and capable of contributing on special teams.