Matthew Stafford has played down the significance of his elbow injury after showing how little it held him back in practice with the Los Angeles Rams.
Stafford was heavily involved in the Rams’ final practice at UC Irvine on Saturday, throwing deep and building chemistry with his teammates in what was arguably his most important job of training camp.
Afterwards, Stafford said the condition of his right elbow was merely “irritating” and not a threat to his ability to lead the Super Bowl title defense.
“I just have a little pain,” Stafford said. “We are working on it. I felt pretty good today. I thought it looked pretty good. I’m just trying to be smart with it, and make myself feel as good as possible heading into week 1 while still getting as many reps as possible.
Stafford suffered elbow pain last season as he led the Rams to a championship in his first season with the team, and he suffered an unspecified elbow injection during the offseason. He didn’t throw to receivers in practice during the offseason program, but he regularly participated in drills during camp despite a limited overall schedule.
Still, coach Sean McVay raised eyebrows Thursday when he called Stafford’s injury “unusual” for a quarterback, comparing it to injuries more often seen in baseball pitchers. Stafford again declined to go into details about his injury on Saturday, but says it’s nothing he can’t handle.
“I’m just going through something irritating right now, but I’m working on it,” Stafford said. “We have a great plan. I feel stronger every time I come here and throw. I felt like I could make any pitch I wanted today. I just try to be smart when I have these opportunities to make sure I can come here, let go, let go like I did today and go from there.
McVay pointed out that Stafford made every pitch during Rams practice on Saturday. The coach isn’t using any of his key players during pre-season, so Stafford’s first chance to show off his arm in a game won’t come until Los Angeles’ season opener on September 8. against Buffalo at SoFi Stadium.
“The way he looked today, I don’t think you would know anything was going on,” McVay said. “He felt good, so I know I’m going to sleep better tonight.”
Stafford, 34, has 49,995 passing yards as he enters his 14th season this fall, ranking him 12th in NFL history and fourth among active quarterbacks. He agreed to a contract extension through 2026 in the offseason, and he publicly has no doubts that he will be able to do so for the duration of his commitment to the Rams and possibly beyond.
“Any time you put an arm under as much stress as I have over the years, it won’t look like a (regular person’s) elbow, I’m sure,” Stafford said. “It’s not one of those things that…the more I throw, the worse it’s going to get.” It’s kind of just a balancing act at this point.
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