When Matthew Stafford attempts to repeat as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in 2022, he may do so having barely thrown the ball throughout the offseason. After receiving an injection for arm pain and throwing no passes during spring workouts, the Rams star was limited at practice yet again starting Wednesday, and coach Sean McVay told reporters Stafford will not be a full participant for the remainder of training camp. That’s because the QB is battling severe elbow tendinitis in his throwing arm, according to NFL Media.
Stafford underwent a minor procedure after pain “cropped up in the spring,” Ian Rapoport reported Thursday, but his elbow “did not get to a place where it needs to be.” The Rams are not overly concerned about Stafford’s long-term health, per Rapoport, but even McVay has suggested the QB won’t be pain-free by the time Los Angeles kicks off its 2022 season.
“It’s just more of, when you really look at the totality of it, (we) want to try to have him operate in as little as pain as possible,” the coach said this week. “I think anytime that you’ve played as long and are as tough as he is, I don’t know if you’re ever truly pain-free, but the goal would be for Sept. 8 and really looking toward 17 games, then hopefully some games after that if we earn that opportunity.”
If Stafford has actually been diagnosed with tendinitis, his injury will likely be difficult to treat, an orthopedic medical professional told CBS Sports, and it would be imperative that he rest his arm as much as possible before the season. It’s very possible, even if the pain subsides, that it could flare up again during and throughout the season; at that point, it would be a matter of Stafford’s tolerance for pain while throwing, if he kept playing. Repeat injections, it should be noted, can ultimately weaken tendons.
Stafford was not limited at practice when the Rams first opened camp, and he resumed at least some throwing Thursday, but McVay has been careful not to overwork the QB, calling Stafford’s ailment “abnormal for a quarterback” and comparing it to issues faced by MLB pitchers. The coach previously indicated Stafford would be on a “pitch count” over the summer, in an effort to keep the reigning champion healthy.
The Rams begin their three-game preseason schedule Aug. 13. It’s unlikely Stafford, who this offseason signed a four-year, $160 million extension with L.A., will take any snaps before the team’s Week 1 matchup with the Bills.