July 22, 2024

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Russini: What I’m hearing about the Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor, NFL trades and more in Week 5

Russini: What I’m hearing about the Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor, NFL trades and more in Week 5

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp makes his season debut today against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, and a team source shared Saturday night that Kupp is ready to go “full speed.”

This is a big positive sign for the receiver who has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. For weeks, while Cobb was recovering, I was told the team felt like it had two quarterbacks on the practice field, with Matthew Stafford and then Cobb working with rookie standout Puka Nacua and the rest of the Rams’ pass rushers. Cobb played an important role in explaining and coaching the group through different scenarios.

Here’s a quick look at Cobb’s week leading up to today, shared with me from team sources.

Monday: treatment

Tuesday: treatment

Wednesday: The Rams had a light outing, and Cobb was back on the field for about half of the offensive plays. He got a few good balls and had a few complete steals.

Thursday: Cobb was listed as a full participant, but the Rams kept him on active duty for caution. There was a bit of anxiety surrounding the Rams’ practice because that’s how Cobb’s hamstring injury had been aggravated for weeks. With that in mind, I’m told Cooper looks sharp, even holding one-handed. As for the deep roads, he was close to the top speed and could cover enough distance.

Friday: Cobb was navigating the practice field without issues or limitations. I was told it looked too runny.

This will be the first time Stafford has thrown to Cobb and Nacua (who leads the NFL in receptions and targets) in the same game, and Stafford is thrilled to have his star back. Even without Kupp, the QB has thrown for 1,330 yards through four games. Reclaiming the Cobb With Sean McVay’s offensive brilliance, this Rams offense could shine.

Cold-headed ponies

Jonathan Taylor is back with the Colts on a new three-year, $42 million contract, but don’t expect a strong return on Sunday. A team source indicated that the Colts would be smart to use Taylor, considering he has not played since last season due to an ankle injury. The Colts will count him and increase his workload over the next month.

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I’m told good communication between the Colts’ agent and Taylor helped get the $14 million-a-year deal done. When I inspected the situation over the past few weeks, I always felt calm between the two sides. In fact, one source wrote: “Cooler heads will prevail.” I asked Taylor’s agent Malky Kawa how he got it done. He replied, “Leverage. He’s the best in the league.”

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“I don’t care what is said or done, Jonathan Taylor is not getting on the field without a new deal,” a source from the Titans, their AFC South rival and nemesis today, texted Friday.

I think he knew something!

The Colts never had any serious trade talks or even an offer from a team when it was known a running back was available. The Dolphins and Packers have discussed the matter internally, but nothing has come to fruition. An NFL front office executive who discussed with his organization the possibility of trading for Taylor told me that trade compensation was not the issue for them; It was the expensive new deal Taylor was seeking. The executive believes this is the problem for a bunch of teams.

Although he has been a presence with the team this summer, today is expected to be the first time Jonathan Taylor (center) has put on a uniform and been active with the team in a year. (Mikal McEldowney / Indianapolis Star / USA Today Sports)

State Joe

Joe Burrow clearly isn’t 100 percent with his right calf ailment. He is unable to cultivate and drive. Burrow is still a few weeks away from being healthy, according to a team source, but we may see some glimpses of improvement this afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals. Another team source said it had been a better week for the Bengals and the condition of his calf had also improved. Burrow had more mobility during practice, and the Bengals are expected to open up the playbook more today.

But my colleague, former QB Chase Daniel, pointed out that another challenge Burrow faces is the time commitment to treat his calf. Caring requires time away from film work, exercise, and even sleep. It all adds up.

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“Can he really run and extend plays like he does outside the pocket?” one league source asked.

“Not really,” they answered.

Despite the improvement, it will take some time before Burrow can truly play like him.

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Vikings get first look at Mahomes

The Minnesota Vikings have not played the Kansas City Chiefs since the 2019 season, and Matt Moore was under center for the Chiefs that day, not Patrick Mahomes. So, despite Kansas City’s fame and success during the Mahomes and Andy Reid era, what the Vikings see in person today will be new.

Minnesota safety and team captain Josh Metellus told me by phone Saturday after practice that the Vikings took a look at film from last Sunday’s game against the Jets, and it was a good reminder not to be intimidated by the Chiefs’ offensive prowess.

“Defensively, you can be impressed with what players like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce can do along with the different ways that Andy Reid likes to describe the offense,” Metellus said. “For us, we’re going to play fast. It’s all about speed. Like I said, you can be impressed by things that happen. You can find yourself watching instead of playing, and our coaches have done a good job, putting us in positions to play fast without needing a lot of Thinking.

Mahomes and Kelce have combined for 513 receptions, 6,474 yards and 48 touchdowns in 81 regular-season games since 2018 when Mahomes became the starter.

The Ravens have dealt with significant injuries all over the field, but last week their overall health improved with the return of receivers Odell Beckham Jr. And Rashod Bateman. Between the injuries at outside linebacker for the Ravens and the offensive line for the Steelers, it’s going to be a chess match between the passing coordinators. Look for Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to utilize his pressure package to test Kenny Pickett’s injured knee and attack the Steelers’ leaky offensive line.

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Control of Christianity

Christian McCaffrey is averaging 25 touches per game, and the Cowboys’ defense knows he’s a big challenge. I’m told that in the Cowboys’ defensive huddle this week, they focused on tackling, making sure they capitalize on their speed, and that their players are all in position to swarm. As one team source wrote, “CMC will make people miss, so everyone’s effort and speed will be crucial to minimizing post-catch gains.”

The defense will also hope to disrupt Brock Purdy’s rhythm and timing with its pass catchers.

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Trade talk

Three trades were made over a two-day period late this week with Randy Gregory to the 49ers, Chase Claypool to the Dolphins, and JC Jackson to the Patriots. They were all disgruntled players looking for new homes, with the minimal compensation needed to get them.

With just over three weeks remaining before the league’s October 31 trade deadline, teams that believe they are contenders may want to add talent, and teams that are not in contention may want to add draft capital. After discussions with league sources, here’s some early talk:

The Raiders have been busy making calls around the league looking for a pass rusher since Chandler Jones was released. They are looking for a player-for-player swap and may not want to give up too much.

Carolina was connecting at wide receiver and other positions. The Panthers have hinted to other teams that they are not interested in trading players for draft picks.

The Texans have received calls from teams looking for a veteran quarterback, but I’m told Case Keenum is unavailable because Houston is relying on his experience and veteran leadership in the quarterback room.

Right now, I’m told the Broncos are not looking to move any offensive players. This is despite receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton attracting trade interest in the offseason.

(Top photo of Cooper Cup:
Tyler Shank/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images)

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