Stafford wrapped up mandatory minicamp on Wednesday after two days of throwing, something he could not do in initial preparations for the 2022 season because of an elbow injury that required surgery.
“It’s nice,” Stafford said. “You know, I love to be out here and practice and compete, play with these guys. So it’s tough to sit on the sideline like I did last year for so much time and not getting any kind of reps, so it was great to get a bunch of reps this offseason. I feel good and excited about getting back in July.”
The injury dated back to the 2021 season, Stafford’s first in Los Angeles where he helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium after 12 years playing for the Detroit Lions. His right elbow had to be managed carefully in the lead-up to last season, keeping him out of OTAs and minicamp.
Coach Sean McVay described the difference of having Stafford available and participating as “night and day.”
“I don’t think I realized it or anybody, and he would never say it because he’s so tough, the amount of pain that he was working through, how limited he was,” McVay said. “But to have our quarterback, the command, the way that he really elevates [the team], his communication skills, it’s been huge for us. He makes a significant difference.”
Stafford played in nine games last season, missing the final seven because of a concussion and neck injury he sustained in a Week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The Rams went 5-12, mounting a meager defense of their title, and expectations aren’t much higher going into this season after cutting standout players to address a salary cap crunch and loading up their roster with rookies.
Stafford said he isn’t bothered by the belief the Rams won’t be successful.
“I know what we’re trying to do is build a really good football team here, and that takes work,” he said. “Whether people think it’s gonna happen or not doesn’t matter to us. You know, just because people said we should win the Super Bowl two years ago didn’t mean we won it. We put the work in and executed, so that’s the mindset we’re taking and happy to be where we’re at.”