Matthew Stafford makes his return

THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford isn’t going anywhere. Those retirement rumors have been squashed. Stafford’s appearance for workouts during Phase I of the team’s OTAs at the Rams’ facility, underscores this fact.

Appearing at a press conference to talk about his offseason and how he is preparing for the new one, Stafford looked fresh and clearly energetic. He also smiled a lot. That element about Stafford was missing last season after he had his 2022 season cut short due to injury.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in action against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 18, 2022. Stafford passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 31-27 win at SoFi Stadium. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Stafford, who drove the Rams to a win in Super Bowl LVI, played all of nine games last season. After throwing just 10 touchdown passes on the season, Stafford was forced to take a knee for the rest of the season, going on the team’s injured reserve list. 

The culprit behind the early shutdown of Stafford was a spinal contusion.  With Stafford sidelined for nearly half of the season in 2022 after throwing for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns, the Rams faced an uphill battle to get their season on track. 

Unfortunately, the Stafford effect took a toll on the team with their leader out. The Rams’ offense went rudderless, and the champs went 5-12 in their follow-up season after winning the Super Bowl. 

The good news for the Rams and their fans is that Stafford has returned. During his abbreviated presser, Stafford sounded like he is ready to make a strong rebound from that injury that forced him to watch the Rams’ last eight games of the season. 

January 9, 2022. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) calling the shots against the San Francisco 49ers. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“Yeah, I think like everybody that plays this game, you got to take some time away just to kind of relax and reset,” Stafford said during a press conference at the Rams practice facility. “(I’ve) spent a lot of days in my life in a practice facility somewhere, either here or in Detroit, and so you got to take that time to kind of be away from it so that when you do come back, days like today or days like the first day of training camp, whenever that is, that you are truly really excited and ready to go, which I am at this point. So I think that’s the biggest thing. Just take some time and get ready to go.”

Stafford, as well as running back Cam Akers, linebacker Ernest Jones and defensive lineman Marquise Copeland, all made their way to the podium to talk about their offseason and what’s next as the team mesh in phase one of OTAs and prepares for the NFL Draft.  

This offseason has been a busy one for the Rams. Many key contributors on that Super Bowl team are no longer here as the team has undergone a personnel purge as the NFL Draft looms ahead. 

Starting with the second round, the Rams have 11 selections to make in this year’s draft. In the meantime, Stafford will be working on his rapport with Allen Robinson II and re-engaging with Cooper Kupp, who also went down to the injury bug last season. 

Stafford has his three core wide receivers in Kupp, Robinson, and Van Jefferson to work with. If you add in tight end Tyler Higbee and second-year wideout Lance McCutcheon, Stafford and the Rams look really good on their side on the offensive side of the ball. Akers gives Stafford a security blanket out of the backfield.

Rumors of Stafford going into retirement have been debunked by the veteran quarterback. 

“I felt really confident I was coming back. I feel like more people were less confident in that than I was. But no, I was ready to go, ready to play as soon as I was cleared and I feel great, feel healthy, and I’m not 25 but I definitely feel good.”

 If anyone thinks there is or was a possibility Stafford might leave, that idea has been kicked to the curb as well by Stafford. He’s in this thing for the long haul with the Rams, he said. 

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to give his team a spark for the rest of the season. File photo/News4usonline
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to give his team a spark for the rest of the season. File photo/News4usonline

“Well, I love being here. I really love playing with the guys that we have in this locker room, obviously, there’s going to be new faces,” Stafford said. “There are some great teammates of mine that are no longer going to be teammates of mine through this offseason. I understand that it’s part of the business.” 

“But I love coming to work here. I love working with our coaches and getting the opportunity to play with some of the guys that we play with,” Stafford added. “So that made that decision easy for me. And like you said, I didn’t feel like it was the same kind of level and that’s yet to be seen. Every season is different, and we will see who our new teammates are going to be and we’ll go from there.” 

Featured Image Caption: Oct. 24, 2021. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a good day against his former team. Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 28-19 win at SoFI Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline