Should the Rams worry about Matthew Stafford’s elbow? Bills are about to tell us

Sean McVeigh says there Without restrictions. Matthew Stafford He says there is no hesitation.

These are the Los Angeles Rams’ party lines when it comes to the elbow-throwing quarterback for their franchise entering Thursday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills. the message? If Stafford needs to make another 741 pass attempts like he did last season to repeat the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning campaign, reading his elbow and the tendinitis inside are ready to roll.

allegedly.

With the start of the 2022 season, Stafford throwing attachment It’s still one of the biggest (and somewhat quieter) questions hanging in the league. Not only because it is the hub of the champion, but also because the Rams have a legitimate chance to be a better team this season. For that to happen, it would require Stafford to take a step forward from last season, when he played through the latter part of the table with enough elbow pain to require an injection during the season, then a deadlock until training camp, and then a limited throwing regimen last week.

After all that maintenance, we can now see if Stafford is healthy enough to handle another 700 pass attempts. And you couldn’t have picked a more meaningful start than facing the Bills offense that would make the game a regatta, the kind of high-score thing that should put Stafford’s arm straight into the qualifying arena, when he averaged 41 passes in. His last three postseason wins. And lest we forget, against a defense that fell on edge accelerator Von Miller in the off-season, he’s sure to land some licks on Stafford’s throwing arm.

If there is a problem with a game like this, it will become clear at some point. And if that’s no problem, Thursday night should be the test that silences a few questions. But until either of them happens against the bills, the simple fact is that no one knows how close Stafford is to 100 per cent.

This is largely because Stafford did not have a typical offseason. He was kept out of the team’s exercises, put to practical advantage on the field, and he never took to the field in a pre-season game. It all raised the question of whether or not the pain in his elbow was completely resolved. As of this week, it feels like a more vague “maybe” than a final “yes.”

How healthy is Matthew Stafford's elbow?  Buffalo Bills is about to tell us.  (Photo by Justin Casterlin/Getty Images)

How healthy is Matthew Stafford’s elbow? Buffalo Bills is about to tell us. (Photo by Justin Casterlin/Getty Images)

“I feel good,” Stafford told reporters last week. I’m ready to go. No strings attached. …I feel great. I’m ready to play. It could always be better. I could always try to feel like 21 again. We’ll keep trying. But no, I feel really good. I feel That I can do every throw.”

If your team relies heavily on the 34-year-old midfielder, this isn’t an announcement you want to make in September. Especially on each arm should I feel good enough that it’s not a topic of conversation. Unfortunately, rams do not have this luxury.

What they have is an excessive curiosity, to the point where an anti-NFC executive had a couple of questions during training camp when a visitor mentioned that he had recently seen the rams practice. First, was Matthew Stafford throwing a soccer ball that day? And secondly, what did that look like?

That’s the kind of thing teams want to know when they hear that a quarterback has locked out and camped in play counts. Because that’s definitely not a good thing for any team, let alone a Super Bowl champion defender who just signed that quarterback and his hamstrings. Huge Contract Extension.

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Make no mistake, the condition of the Stafford facility will affect the entire NFC landscape. If he’s healthy, or the team manages the pain in the same way as 2021, the Rams starts the season as the best team in the conference. But if there is the kind of perennial problem that requires more than just veteran maintenance — or worse, shuts down Stafford for an extended period of time — it may remake the NFC West and the conference’s Super Bowl image.

Not that the Rams seem particularly concerned about it. Back in July, McVay brushed aside any concerns as the franchise errs on the side of caution. He also insisted that not playing Stafford in pre-season was a matter of his ideology, not any elbow concerns. As McVeigh said, Stafford will never play in a pre-season game again, just because of determination and intelligence. He explained this approach as something related to Stafford’s next several years of risk mitigation rather than simply responding to a problem of tendinitis that had worsened as 2021 went on.

“It’s just about the intelligence of management,” McVeigh said in July. “He will be good when the season starts.”

Well, the moment is here and the health administration ends. Or at least the most manageable part. Once Stafford steps onto the field against Buffalo, the only sure thing is that his season is bending at his elbow in a throw — just right with the top of the NFC.

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