Matthew Stafford sure seems poised for a major bounce-back season in 2023

Matthew Stafford won’t take a snap in the preseason this year so we won’t truly know how he looks in a game setting until the Rams kick off the season against the Seahawks on Sept. 10. But it’s hard not to be excited about the prospect of Stafford having a massive bounce-back season in 2023.

Last year was tough for the veteran quarterback. From an elbow injury that limited him significantly all offseason to constant shuffling along the offensive line to a concussion and back issue that eventually knocked him out for the season, Stafford went through the wringer. It was one of the most challenging years of his career, at least from an outside perspective.

The outlook in 2023 is very different, thankfully – even if the Rams aren’t expected to be a Super Bowl contender. For the first time in years, Stafford has had a full offseason of work. No limitations, no lingering injuries, no major concerns. He’s only missed one practice since camp began and that was for a planned rest day.

That’s a massive improvement from last year when he barely threw in team drills during camp and didn’t throw at all in the spring. Andrew Whitworth even said recently that people don’t know how bad his elbow issue was.

“Last year was a really, really tough year,” Whitworth said. “It’s unfortunate he wasn’t on the ‘Quarterback’ series that just came out because it would’ve crazy for people to see just how intense his arm issues and things that were bothering him.”

With the season approaching, Stafford appears to be 100% healthy and “feeling great,” according to the man himself. Most importantly, he’s gotten “a ton of reps” this offseason, so there’s been no lack of work on the field.

“Yeah, I feel really good. Still more difficult now than it was 10 years ago to get ready to go, but when I’m out there, I’m feeling great,” Stafford said Wednesday. “Guys have done a great job of trying to help me be in as good of a spot as I can with how we’re working out, treatment, all that kind of stuff, just trying to make sure that I’m in as good a place as I can be. Heading into the season, I feel like I’ve gotten a ton of reps which is fun and I’m excited. Football’s a lot of fun when you get to go out there and practice it and work on your craft and feel good and healthy and all that, so it’s been fun.”

Those increased reps have seemingly translated to sharp play in practice. It’s one thing to play well against your own team on the practice field, but Stafford has picked apart the Raiders and Broncos defenses in consecutive weeks.

Here are a couple of the reports out of practice last week when the Rams took the field with the Raiders.

On Wednesday in Denver, Stafford was sharp against a talented Broncos defense. And that’s according to Broncos reporters who don’t see him every day in practice like the Rams beat.

Stafford won’t have the benefit of a top receiving corps like he did in 2021 or a dominant offensive line, nor is the Rams’ running game expected to be one of the best in the NFL. But as long as he and Cooper Kupp can stay healthy, he’s likely to rebound from a frustrating 2022 season to perform at a much higher level.

If the Rams are going to contend at all in the NFC West, they’ll need Stafford to play at a Pro Bowl level and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do that this year.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire