Matthew Stafford downplays elbow injury, throws in Rams practice

Matthew Stafford downplayed the significance of his elbow injury after showing how little it holds him back in practice with the Los Angeles Rams.

Stafford took part in the Rams’ final training session at UC Irvine on Saturday, taking deep throws and building chemistry with his teammates in what was probably his most extensive work of training camp.

Afterwards, Stafford said his right elbow condition is only “irritating” and does not threaten his ability to lead the title defense of the Super Bowl champions.

“I’m just a little sore,” Stafford said. “We’re working through it. I was feeling pretty good today. I thought it looked pretty good. I’m just trying to be smart about it and make myself feel as good as possible going into week 1 while still doing so much get reps when I can too.”

Stafford was in pain in his elbow as he led the Rams to a championship in his first season with the team, and he had an unspecified injection to his elbow during the off-season. During the offseason program, he did not pitch to receivers in practice, but he did participate in exercises during the camp despite a limited overall schedule.

Still, Coach Sean McVay raised eyebrows on Thursday when he said Stafford’s injury was “abnormal” for a quarterback, comparing it to injuries more commonly seen in baseball pitchers. Stafford declined to go into details about his injury again on Saturday, but he says it’s nothing he can’t handle.

“I’m just going through something that’s irritating at the moment, but I’m working through 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 throw I wanted today. I just try to be smart when I get those opportunities to make sure I can come out here, untie it, let it go like I did today and go from there.”

McVay pointed out that Stafford made every pitch during the Rams practice on Saturday. The coach doesn’t use any of his key players in the preseason, so Stafford’s first chance to demonstrate his arm in a game won’t come until the 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 up,” McVay said. “He was feeling good, so I know I’m going to sleep better tonight.”

Stafford, 34, has 49,995 yards passing as he enters his 14th season this fall, making him 12th in NFL history and fourth among active quarterbacks. He agreed to a contract extension until 2026 during the off-season, and he has no doubts that he will be able to wear it for the duration of his contract with the Rams and perhaps beyond.

“Any time you put an arm through as much stress as I’ve had over the years, it won’t look like the elbow (of an ordinary person), I’m sure,” Stafford said. “It’s not one of those things that… the more I throw, the worse it gets. It’s just a balancing act right now.”

Reporting by Associated Press.

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