What Robert Woods’ injury means for the Rams and their receiving corps

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The Rams have been one of the healthiest teams in the NFL since Sean McVay arrived in Los Angeles in 2017, but they’ve suffered some bad luck this season. In addition to already losing Cam Akers, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Justin Hollins for extended periods of time, they’ll now be without Robert Woods for the rest of the year.

Woods tore his ACL in practice on Friday, the same day that Odell Beckham Jr. landed in Los Angeles. As good as Beckham is, this is a huge setback for the Rams offense because of how important he is as a receiver, blocker and leader in the locker room.

Woods has the highest pass-blocking grade on the team at 84.9, according to Pro Football Focus, better than all of their offensive linemen and tight ends. He’s caught 45 passes for 556 yards and four touchdowns, too, making the most of his 69 targets this season.

With Woods out, the Rams need two players in particular to step up: Beckham and Van Jefferson. Cooper Kupp is going to remain the top target on offense, but the Rams need to have three productive receivers in order to make the most of their scheme. Sean McVay already can’t use 12 personnel without Johnny Mundt or a solid No. 2 tight end, so he’s been forced to rely on three-receiver sets more often lately.

Beckham’s role just became that much more important and it’s critical that he gets up to speed rather quickly. He’ll need to learn the playbook, do his best as a blocker and adapt to the multiple positions he’ll play, both in the slot and out wide. Woods lined up all over the place and did everything from block to take jet sweep handoffs, and while it’s not expected that Beckham will fully take on those responsibilities, the more he can do, the better off the Rams will be.

As for Jefferson, he went from being a starter to a backup to a starter once again in a matter of days. He’s done well as the No. 3 receiver, catching 27 passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns, but he’ll get even more passes thrown his way now – at least until Beckham establishes himself as the No. 2 receiver behind Kupp, if that happens.

Jefferson is a similar receiver to both Kupp and Woods, with Les Snead even saying last year that he was someone that “reminds us of come combination of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.”

Woods won’t be easy to replace at all because of everything he does for the Rams, but at least the Rams brought in Beckham to provide some depth – which is exactly why they did it, knowing they’d be dangerously thin at receiver if one of their three starters got hurt.

It’s now up to Jefferson and Beckham to take some pressure off of Kupp.