THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – There was pure joy on the face of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods as he beamed with a wide smile when he fielded questions from the media about the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr. to the team.
Woods seemed genuinely elated that he and Beckham would be playing alongside one another.
“I think that he’s a dynamic receiver,” Woods remarked. “I mean you see what he can do.”
Once he cleared waivers after being released by the Cleveland Browns, Beckham decided to bring his mercurial talents to Los Angeles and play for the Rams.
Both Woods and Cooper Kupp took time after a recent practice to talk about what it means to the ballclub to have a player the caliber of Beckham in the fold as the Rams race off on a Super Bowl run. Woods, in his fifth year playing for the Rams, talked about his relationship with Beckham.
“We chatted with him I think ever since he’s been in the league,” Woods said. “Always talked to him on the field, and sometimes training with him at UCLA and U[SC]. Really just a hard worker from what I’ve seen; goes out and tries to be the best, whether it’s in the weight room, on the field, or rehabbing. He’s a really good receiver.”
Those words from Woods took place Thursday. On Friday, Woods, in his ninth year in the NFL, went down with an injury. On Saturday, Rams head coach Sean McVay confirmed that Woods would be lost for the season because of an ACL tear.
“You’re sick for (WR) Robert (Woods),” McVay said. “Like we kind of mentioned yesterday, he’s epitomized everything that’s been right about this place. Such a great competitor. Such a tough player. Great person. It’s so unfortunate. What a perspective this game gives you. He’s just running up something on air, puts his foot in the ground weird, and he kind of came back and said he felt okay.
“Then we ended up getting a scan and unfortunately it revealed the result that we all know, but he’ll attack his rehab the right way. (I) love Robert Woods. Guys will be asked to step up in his absence. You don’t ever replace a player like him, but it’ll certainly require a lot of guys to play better and really carry the torch because of everything that you miss without him.”
The timing of the Rams gaining a superstar talent wide receiver in Beckham and losing Woods, one of the mainstays of their offense and a player who personified the team’s identity is oddly coincidental.
After the departure of DeSean Jackson, the pickup of Beckham was seen as an immediate boost to the Rams’ chances of going to the Super Bowl. That criteria still holds, but the season won’t be the same without Woods, who was having another one of his usual productive seasons.
In nine games this season, Woods snagged 45 passes for 556 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 12.4 yards a catch. In the last several seasons, Woods has become Mr. Reliability for the Rams. Last season, Woods caught 90 passes for 936 yards and six touchdowns.
During the 2019 season, Woods also caught 90 passes. His receiving total that season was 1,134 yards. And for the 2018 season, Woods got his hands on 86 balls for receptions to the tune of 1,219 yards and six scores.
What Woods has meant to the Rams organization is simply immeasurable. It cannot be put into words. When asked about the news relating to Woods’ season-ending injury, Beckham grasped for the right words to say.
“Everything felt right about coming here, except that moment,” Beckham said. “This is a guy who called me on the phone on FaceTime, and we shared words and just how excited we were to work together, and for me to be able to learn from him. I have no words for it. It was like disheartening when I got the call. I don’t have many words for it. I know that he was the heart and soul of this team and just kind of trying to do whatever I can to help.”
Beckham continued, ”Those are big shoes to fill but do whatever I can to help him. My heart goes out to him. I’ve been through the process and it’s just crazy. It just kind of reminds me like never take life for granted cause things, split-second, things can change. My prayers go out to him and just staying strong mentally during that time. I’ve been through it and I know what it’s like. Something about it just doesn’t feel right, everything about it, actually.”
Perhaps no one feels the sting of losing Woods more than Kupp. Woods and Kupp have been teammates since 2017. The two players have played off each other well in their seasons together. Kupp, who is having a monster season catching the football (74 receptions, 1,019 yards, 10 TDs), sounded like a player searching for the right words to say.
“At the end of the day, you just don’t know what’s going to happen out there,” Kupp said. “I feel sick for Rob.”
With his longtime teammate sidelined for the rest of the season, Kupp said it is incumbent that others pick up the slack.
“The mantra in this league is next man up,” Kupp said. “You got to have someone that will be able to step up and fill that role. Rob is one of a kind in terms of the things he was able to do. So, it might take a few guys who’ll step in and fill that role.”
Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods (2) in action against the Tennessee Titans. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline