Rams place receiver Cooper Kupp on reserve/COVID-19 list

Gary Klein
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp tries to get past Seattle's Quandre Diggs. (Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

The Rams, who will be without starting quarterback Jared Goff on Sunday in the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, also could be missing leading receiver Cooper Kupp.

The Rams announced Tuesday that Kupp had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Rams players had the day off Tuesday and, under NFL protocols, the team cannot divulge whether a player tested positive or was placed on the list as a close contact.

According to a Rams official, if a player tests positive, he is required to be on the list for 10 days and must be asymptomatic for 24 hours before he can return. If they are a high-risk close contact, they must be on the list for five days. If they are medium-risk close contact, they are monitored without a specified time regarding a return.

Tuesday’s move is another possible distraction and setback for a team that is aiming to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Under coach Sean McVay, the Rams made the playoffs in 2017 and 2018 before falling short last season. The Rams (9-6) will return to the playoffs if they defeat or tie the Cardinals (8-7). They also would make it if the Chicago Bears (8-7) lose to or tie the Green Bay Packers (12-3).

Goff suffered a broken right thumb in Sunday’s 20-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and had surgery Monday. Running back Darrell Henderson suffered a high ankle sprain in the loss and was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

John Wolford, who has never taken an NFL regular-season snap, will start in Goff’s place. Malcolm Brown will start at running back.

Rookie running back Cam Akers, who suffered a high ankle sprain in a loss to the New York Jets and sat out against the Seahawks, is making progress, McVay said Monday, but his status for Sunday’s game has not been  determined.

Kupp has a team-best 92 catches for 974 yards and three touchdowns. If he does not play against the Cardinals, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and rookie Van Jefferson would start.

The Rams also announced that they signed quarterback Blake Bortles from the Denver Broncos practice squad.

If Kupp cannot play Sunday he would be the first Rams starter to miss a game because of COVID-19.

Offensive lineman Brian Allen tested positive during spring, and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said he tested positive during summer.

Several reserves and practice squad players have been placed on and subsequently come off the reserve/COVID-19 list, most recently offensive lineman Bobby Evans.

On Monday, while speaking with reporters about Goff’s situation, McVay said he was embracing the challenges of coaching in the midst of a pandemic.

“The most exhausting [part] if you allow it to be, is just how much we put into these games and then we haven't gotten the result each of the last couple of weeks,”  he said, adding, “You get back up and you go put everything that you have into it this week.

“What that looks like in terms of having to navigate through the inevitable injuries or COVID, whatever it is, you have to handle it and we're not going to make any excuses. We have to be ready to go this week.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.