Injuries at key positions resulted in the Rams finishing the 2022 season with one of the worst records in the league, just one year removed from when Los Angeles took home a Lombardi trophy.
But players are getting healthy and looking ahead to 2023, including wideout Van Jefferson, who said this week that he's excited to be getting back to normal workouts after being hindered over the last year.
"It's been great being back and working with … those guys, getting back to myself and I'm feeling pretty good," he said, via the team website.
Jefferson, a 2020 second-round pick, got an opportunity for more playing time during the Rams' 2021 Super Bowl season due to other players' injuries, and took advantage of the chance. The 26-year-old finished his second NFL season with 802 yards and six touchdowns, second on the team only to Cooper Kupp.
But instead of being able to build on his breakout season in 2022, Jefferson was one of the many Rams players whose snaps were limited by injuries. Due to a pair of offseason knee surgeries, the latter happening in August, the wide receiver didn't make his season debut until Week 8. And even upon his return he wasn't at full form immediately, making his first catch in Week 11.
Though the targets and receptions ramped up, it was never at the level of the previous year, and Jefferson finished with 24 catches for 369 yards.
"It was tough, it was a tough process to go through," Jefferson said. "But from the games I got back, got to experience a lot of things, got to do a lot of things. I think this offseason was just about me getting healthy. Obviously the knee injury, having two surgeries is tough, but like I said, I persevered through that, and now it's just about me getting my balance back together, getting the strength in both legs, and being able to do the things I know I'm able to do."
The return of a healthy Jefferson would definitely spell good things for a Los Angeles squad looking to rebound. Now the second-most experienced pass-catcher on the roster and the likely No. 2 WR after Allen Robinson's departure, Jefferson's leadership and talent will be essential if the Rams want to return to their previous success.
Another hopeful sign for L.A. is that Jefferson isn't the only player getting back to normal activity, as quarterback Matthew Stafford said a few weeks ago that he felt “refreshed” and is a full-go for offseason workouts after missing the final seven weeks of 2022 with concussion symptoms and a spinal cord contusion.
Because of the timeline of each of their injuries, Jefferson only played three games with Stafford under center last season, and he says having him back on the field has been an energy boost for the entire team during workouts.
"Oh yeah, I think that makes a huge difference," Jefferson said. "I think (it does) for all the guys that are out there throwing with Matt. He's looking great, he's always been great, so it's just great to be out there with him again and see him healthy, and see him slinging it like he does. It's good to just be out there and get some passes with him."