Short passes were crisp. Mid-range throws consistently on target. And long passes catchable.
By the time the Rams completed a 60-play intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday, quarterback Matthew Stafford appeared to have answered more of the lingering questions about the condition of his right elbow.
Stafford completed 23 of 34 passes, and he would have been more efficient if not for four dropped passes.
“Great command all day,” coach Sean McVay said after the workout in Thousand Oaks. “He threw the ball incredibly accurately in all parts of the field.”
Stafford was not made available to local(CQ) reporters on Tuesday. He is scheduled to speak with the media on Wednesday, a team official said.
Stafford, 34, is playing through tendinitis. During training camp at UC Irvine, McVay described Stafford’s elbow issue as “abnormal for a quarterback.”
During two weeks of training camp workouts at UC Irvine, the Rams managed Stafford’s workload as part of a strategy to ensure the 14-year pro would be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.
But if the condition persists, so will the Rams’ concern about how Stafford’s arm holds up during the remaining 16 games and a possible playoff run.
McVay said Stafford was a full participant during a closed practice on Monday and that plan for Stafford during the scrimmage was to “really ramp him up.”
With star receiver Cooper Kupp getting a rest day, and Van Jefferson still sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, Stafford spread the ball among running backs Jake Funk and Kyren Williams, tight end Tyler Higbee and receivers Allen Robinson, Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell.
All made catches. Robinson and Atwell also had two drops.
“He’s got a comfort level with Higbee and with Cooper,” McVay said. “But with some of these newer guys [the scrimmage] was a great step in the right direction to be able to start establishing the rapport that will be critical for this year.”
During the sequences when the first-team offense went against the first-team defense, star defensive lineman Aaron Donald tried to pressure Stafford.
“I’m trying my best to get after him — and stay away, not get too close,” Donald said. “But he’s looking good out there.”
The scrimmage format provided Rams defensive players with opportunities to stay on the field for long drives, which aids in game-type conditioning, Donald said.
“The tempo and the things that get you fatigued, but you still have to go and push through,” he said. “That’s what it’s about.”
At two points during the scrimmage, tempers flared and resulted in pushing and shoving matches that required other players or coaches to break up.
It’s all part of the process, according to Donald.
“I don’t mind a little pushing here or there — it’s part of the game,” Donald said. “We’re here to get each other better, find ways to push each other and, in the mix of doing that on the practice field, you might get a little extra pump, pushing and things like that.
“But it’s all to get each other better.”
McVay does not play starters and other key players during the preseason, so Stafford, Donald and others will be on the sideline Friday when the Rams play the Houston Texans at SoFi Stadium.
Stafford’s next test comes next week, when the Rams travel to Cincinnati for two joint practices with the Bengals before the preseason finale between the teams.
Donald is looking forward to a change of scenery across the line of scrimmage.
“It’s more going against somebody different,” he said, “getting the work and getting to compete against somebody other than your own teammates.
The Rams waived quarterback Luis Perez, kicker/punter Cameron Dicker, tackle Adrian Ealy, tight end Jamal Pettigrew and defensive back Caesar Williams to trim the roster to 85 players by Tuesday’s deadline. They then claimed defensive end T.J. Carter off waivers from the New Orleans Saints, and waived receiver Warren Jackson with an injury designation. … Running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson continued to work on the side with trainers. Both players are nursing what McVay has described as “soft-tissue” injuries.