THOUSAND OAKS — For Matthew Stafford and the Rams, the wait is almost over.
Only in the NFL, with its lengthy offseason and habit of holding starters out of preseason games, would a star player be traded and have to wait 7½ months to compete with his new team.
Stafford was acquired from the Detroit Lions for Jared Goff and draft choices on Jan. 30 (the weekend the return of outdoor dining in Los Angeles signaled unstoppable progress against COVID-19). The quarterback will finally make his Rams debut Sunday night at SoFi Stadium against the Chicago Bears. That’s a long time.
Long or useful?
“Both,” Stafford said Wednesday after thinking for a moment. “I’ve definitely needed all the time I could get. I’m still going to continue to learn and try to get better in this offense.
“But it definitely feels like it’s time to go and play football.”
To wide receiver Robert Woods, the 225 days since the Stafford trade have been a time of hype and hard work.
“That’s how offseasons are, a lot of what-ifs and what’s supposed to happen,” Woods said. “I think for us, it’s really just working. Being able to get with Stafford in the offseason, throw, pick his brain and get prepared for a season with him.
“I think everyone’s just excited to finally get going.”
The complexity of playing quarterback in the Rams’ offense has made the time valuable, Coach Sean McVay said.
“You guys know from being around him, he’s really easy to get along with,” McVay told reporters. “He’s got really strong opinions, but if he does have a disagreement, it’s never in a way that makes you feel like, ‘What the heck?’
“It’s always in such a disarming, good way, of not necessarily having to agree with everything, but let’s be solution-oriented, and that’s exactly what Matthew’s like.”
Counting organized team activities, mandatory minicamp and training camp, the Rams will have put in 10 weeks of practice before the regular season’s first game, and that doesn’t count what players do unofficially.
“There’s so much work that goes into this, starting months ago,” Stafford said. “It’s fun to be able to go out and play against somebody else, and see where we are.”
Matthew and Kelly Stafford are donating 100 tickets for Sunday night’s game to Camp Pendleton’s 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, along with T-shirts reading “Thank you for your service.” … The season’s first official injury report listed Rams defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson (knee) as not practicing Wednesday, although he performed individual drills with a brace on his right knee and a trainer watching. McVay said Robinson might play. … The report said backup outside linebacker Terrell Lewis skipped practice for “rest,” although he has an ongoing knee problem. … The Rams released their regular-season “uniform schedule.” They’ll wear their 1973-99 throwback white jerseys and yellow pants for Sunday’s game against the Bears and for the home game against the Tennessee Titans and the road game against the San Francisco 49ers; blue jerseys and yellow pants for the home games against the Arizona Cardinals, Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and 49ers, and all-bone-white for the rest.