No NFL team had a shorter offseason than the Rams, something of a double-edged reward for winning the Super Bowl.
They added two key players to a revamped roster, and then spent spring workouts and training camp navigating through their star quarterback’s sore right elbow. A brawl during a joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals put an exclamation point on the preseason.
Now the run-up is over.
On Thursday night, the Rams will try to begin fulfilling their proclamation to “Run it Back” for a second consecutive title when they play the Buffalo Bills in the season opener at SoFi Stadium.
“Sometimes if feels like it’s been an eternity,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of turnaround between seasons, “and sometimes it feels like it’s gone in a blink of an eye.
“But here we are.”
Before kickoff, a banner commemorating the Rams’ Super Bowl championship will be unveiled at the stadium where the Rams defeated the Bengals to complete a boom-or-bust season.
But as the Rams chase trying to become the first team in nearly two decades to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles, they said 2021 was in the past.
“At this point,” receiver Cooper Kupp said, “everyone’s pretty much done with that.”
Said Jalen Ramsey: “When you have great ambition to be legendary and elite, it’s easier to turn that page and go strive for the next big thing or whatever the next thing is.”
Last season — his first with the Rams — veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford played through tendinitis in his throwing arm and still led the Rams to a title.
After the Super Bowl, Stafford received an injection in his arm. He did not throw passes during the team’s offseason workouts, and his workload during training was reduced. But he looked sharp during preseason practices and has said he feels great.
“There won’t be any limitations,” McVay, who is 5-0 in season openers, said of Stafford.
“That’s a big weapon.”
— Aaron Donald, Rams defensive lineman, on Bills’ Josh Allen
The Rams won’t be easing into the new season: The Bills are regarded as one of the favorites to win the AFC. Quarterback Josh Allen leads a team that last season lost in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs in an epic divisional-round game.
Allen, 6-feet-5 and 237 pounds, is one of the NFL’s strongest passers. He also is a dynamic running threat.
“He’s big, he’s got long arms, uses the stiff arm trying to get that separation to get the ball away,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said, adding, “Obviously athletic and mobile enough to make you miss and break for a long run.
“So, you add that all into one, that’s a big weapon.”
The Rams fortified their defense by signing linebacker Bobby Wagner, a six-time All-Pro in 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
Donald, Wagner and Ramsey give the unit possible future Hall of Famers at every level.
“I would definitely say that he’s the best linebacker I’ve played with,” Ramsey said of Wagner. “I was about to say the best defensive player, but we know that’s A.D.
“But he’s right there though.”
The Bills acquired a future Hall of Famer when they outbid the Rams for free agent edge rusher Von Miller, who was traded to the Rams at midseason in 2021.
Miller, also a Super Bowl champion with the Denver Broncos, provided the Rams with leadership and outstanding play down the stretch en route to winning the championship.
The Bills regard Miller as the missing piece for a team that appears primed for a Super Bowl run under coach Sean McDermott. The Bills gave Miller a six-year, $120-million contract that includes $54.4 million in guarantees, according to overthecap.com.
Miller’s first game with his new teammates comes against his former teammates at SoFi Stadium, where he had two sacks in the Rams’ 23-20 Super Bowl LVI victory over the Bengals.
“I love those guys,” Miller said of the Rams during a news conference with Buffalo reporters, adding, “We won Super Bowl 56 and that will always be there.
“Those will always be my teammates, but at the same time, you know, I’m a Buffalo Bill now. And I want to create some of those same memories with my new teammates.”
Stafford will be aware of Miller. The 12th-year pro has amassed 115½ sacks.
“I have nothing but respect for Von, who he is as a player, who he was as a teammate,” Stafford said. “What he did for us last year was pretty awesome.
“So, wish him all the best of luck in all the other games this year.”
Van Jefferson, who entered training camp as the No. 3 receiver, has been ruled out for season opener. Jefferson had surgery on his left knee in the weeks following the Super Bowl but needed a second procedure during training camp for a problem unrelated to the first surgery, according to the team. He has not been able to return to practice yet. … The Rams agreed to terms with right tackle Rob Havenstein on a three-year contract extension, the team announced. Terms were not disclosed Havenstein, 30, was entering the final season of a four-year, $32.5-million contract. Havenstein was elected a team captain.