Kupp's presence in Sean McVay's game-planning wasn't fully appreciated until it was wiped away. The numbers, however, were pretty evident. Jared Goff completed 68.4 percent of his passes and generated a 113 passer rating through Week 10 with Kupp on the field. In the six regular-season tilts after the wideout's ACL tear, those numbers dipped to 59.8 percent and 83.9. Sure, other factors aided that downturn, but the slot receiver's injury certainly played a role.
The third-year pro is running and appears on track in his months-long recovery.
"I feel good. I don't think we like to talk about being on pace or off pace, ahead or behind or anything like that, but I think I'm where I'm supposed to be," Kupp said recently, via the team's official website. "Now, to get back on the field and put cleats on for the first time since the injury, it feels like it really just kind of refreshes things and gives me some new motivation to be able to go attack this thing."
Kupp has been a security blanket for Goff through his two-year career. A slot maven, Kupp generated 40 receptions for 566 yards and six TDs in eight games in 2018. His pace before the initial knee injury in Week 6 was even better. In the first five games, Kupp averaged 87 yards receiving and a touchdown on six receptions per tilt.
While Josh Reynolds added a different size/speed element to the Rams offense while replacing Kupp during the RamsSuper Bowl run, L.A. missed the underneath routes from the slot. Kupp's skillset pairs perfectly with the talent of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods on the outside to help make McVay's offense run smoothly.
"Thinking forward to that point, it's tough with this injury. Like I've said, I always want to be looking forward, but once you get too far ahead it's tough," Kupp said. "I'm never going to live in a state of doubt -- that I don't belong here, that I'm not supposed to be here. Like I said, [it's] the realization that the injury did happen and that I am where I'm supposed to be."
When Kupp starts cutting on his surgically repaired knee, it will represent a big step. Until then, the pivotal slot receiver will continue to chug along in his rehab, hoping to return by training camp.