The Los Angeles Rams are preparing to play without wide receiver Van Jefferson on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills, according to league sources. Jefferson didn’t practice Monday and is still recovering from a second knee surgery on the same one he had repaired this offseason.
How the Rams will proceed without Van Jefferson
Although Jefferson’s procedure on Aug. 2 was characterized as minor by coach Sean McVay, the receiver is “not ready to go,” per a source.
Jefferson experienced a setback in July, which has delayed his return. The Rams do feel like Jefferson is making progress in his recovery, and he could be ready within the first few games of the year if he continues on this track.
“He’s making good progress,” 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.”
The Rams are fortunate. With Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson as their top two downfield targets, they can make do without Jefferson. Still, Jefferson caught 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season after catching 19 receptions for 220 yards and one score 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 season.
The Rams have plenty of options, including Ben Skowronek, Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell, and promising rookie Lance McCutcheon. They could also promote Jacob Harris from the practice squad.
Skowronek only caught 11 passes last season, but the Rams need someone to step up with Robert Woods now playing in Tennessee and Odell Beckham Jr. still a free agent as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl.
“If you said, all right, what’s been a positive spin on losing a great player in Van that we’re really relying on,” McVay said before noting the opportunity for other receivers “to really step up and show what they’re capable of.”
What’s next with Odell Beckham Jr.?
The Rams are keeping the door open for Beckham, who caught 21 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. There is mutual interest between the two parties in working together again, per league sources.
Beckham is focused primarily on his rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl. He may not be ready until October or early November, but he’s making steady progress and working diligently to get back on the field.
“He’s a guy that, in a short amount of time, we were able to develop a really special relationship,” McVay said recently. “I thought he brought a great spark to our team. I thought he played really well. He’s a great teammate.
“Without a doubt, want to get Odell back here. That’s the goal and continuing to work toward a solution of him re-signing with the Rams.”