On Wednesday, the team started Kupp’s 21-day practice window, allowing him to practice for the first time this season. McVay said Friday that Kupp has looked like himself in practice this week, “which is a good thing.”
“He’s very comfortable,” McVay said. “He’s so conscientious. He looks like he’s moving around really well, seeing good things between he and [quarterback] Matthew [Stafford] with a lot of their nonverbal communication. And just having his presence out there is definitely a boost.”
Kupp first injured the hamstring during a training camp practice Aug. 1. He then experienced a setback before the start of the season. Since Kupp’s injury, McVay has said several times that the Rams are focused on the receiver “returning to performance” vs. just “returning to play.”
Kupp said Friday he doesn’t anticipate his injury being one he’ll have to “deal with” week-to-week this season, and that was one of the reasons he went on injured reserve.
“Part of the plan going in and having me go on IR is to be able to give me that time to make sure this wasn’t something we were going to have to deal with,” Kupp said. “And you never know how it’s going to go during the course of a season, and take things a day at a time, a week at a time. But that’s certainly not the expectation I have.”
McVay said he doesn’t expect Kupp to be limited or on a snap count, but said the team will “see how it goes.”
“Once he gets going, you want to be smart about it,” McVay said. “But I also know once a game gets going, you’re kind of in that moment. … And there’s nothing quite replicating the competitiveness and the tempo that occurs on game day, but that’ll be something that we want to be careful about.”
Kupp has not played in a game since Week 10 of 2022 after an ankle injury ended his season. He had 75 catches for 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games before the injury.
Last month before he went on injured reserve, Kupp saw a specialist in Minnesota to try to get to the root of his hamstring issues. McVay said previously that Kupp’s injury hadn’t followed “the standard protocol for when you’re reaggravating a soft tissue injury.”
Kupp said he went to see the specialist because after he had the setback in the middle of rehab, he wanted to make sure he was covering all of his bases “before we just go back to doing the same thing as before.”
McVay said Friday that by putting Kupp on injured reserve before the start of the season, it allowed him to get into a “consistent rhythm and routine and not really necessarily feeling like you’re having to rush back” for the opener, something McVay said was “kind of weighing on him a lot.”
“I think there was a benefit of just the overall time, the ability to have a good rehabilitation program that was structured toward just building the overall strength and trying to eliminate some of the, whether it’s the sensations or the things that were in alignment with the muscle strain or whatever it was,” McVay said.
“He’s feeling good now and I think the time was beneficial for that.”
In Kupp’s absence, the Rams have leaned on rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua. Nacua, a fifth-round pick, has 39 catches and 501 yards in four games, the most through a player’s first four games in NFL history.