Now Skowronek can replace Jefferson – at least at the beginning of the season.
Jefferson, who was returning from off-season knee surgery and has been out of training for two days may undergo another knee operation earlier this week, two people with knowledge of the situation said Sunday, asking to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation.
The Rams counted on a starting corps of wide receivers that included the current NFL forward of the year. Cooper Kuppnew addition Allen Robinson and Jefferson, a third-year pro who caught 50 passes last season, six of which were touchdowns.
But if Jefferson undergoes a relatively minor procedure, he will likely be suspended for at least September. 8 Rookie vs Buffalo Bills on Sophie Stadium.
On Saturday, after Jefferson was absent from practice, Rams coach Sean McVeigh declined to provide details about Jefferson’s situation. McVeigh was not scheduled to speak to reporters on Sunday, and the team did not provide him to discuss Jefferson’s status.
Offensive coordinator Liam Cohen didn’t give details about the Jefferson situation, but said it provides an opportunity for other players – and coaches – to step up.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get creative so we can put guys in different positions to help our offense,” Cohen said.
Skowronek, 6ft 3in and 224lbs, is used to taking advantage of opportunities.
After playing four seasons in the Northwest, he moved to Notre Dame. In nine games, he caught five touchdown passes and averaged 15 yards per catch.
The Rams selected Skowronek in the seventh round of the 2021 draft with the 249th overall pick. He was originally planned as a special teams member and a potential fifth or sixth receiver in a corps that included Kupp, Jefferson, Robert Woods, Dezean Jackson, and second-round pick Tutu Atwell.
Jackson, unhappy with his role, was then released after eight games. Atwell appeared dazed from playing wide receiver in the NFL and returning hits in eight games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Woods suffered a season-ending knee injury with eight regular season games remaining.
Despite signing Odell Beckham Jr., Skowronek has been successful due to his speed, strength and versatility. He caught 11 passes for 133 yards in his last 10 games.
After Sunday practice, he said he was excited about the new opportunities.
“I am really looking forward to these representatives with [quarterback] Matthew [Stafford]first team offense and all that,” he said. “Just get comfortable every day.”
Skowronek, 25, said he learned from miscalculations and mistakes during his rookie season, which saw him play four receiver positions and special teams.
In the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, Skowronek lost what would have been a 38-yard touchdown.
After Beckham suffered a knee injury in the second quarter in the Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, Skowronek was called by McVeigh and receivers coach Eric Yarber. Early in the third quarter, a pass bounced off Skowronek’s left hand and into the hands of Bengal defender Chidobe Awuzi for an interception.
“Being thrown into the fire, be it playoff games, especially the Super Bowl, in positions that I may not have trained in for a year, I think it will be great for me to look back and see how I have grown. Skowronek said. Adversity builds character.
Coaches and teammates say Atwell, who weighs 165 pounds, 5-9, has had great success, but Skowronek’s performance last season ended up making him the fourth wide receiver behind Kupp, Robinson and Jefferson ahead of training camp.
This week Yarber called Skowronek his “Swiss Army Knife” of the host corps.
“His strength is his speed and his physicality is his access,” Yarber said. “That’s how he should play. Not finesse, but speed and confidence.
“Dexterity will be his changeup.”
Skowronek learned and learned from Kupp, Woods, Jefferson and Beckham last season, and from Robinson during practice and camp during the off-season.
However, he won’t try to be anything other than himself, he said.
“I’m the man who was drafted 249, you know, they didn’t give me anything,” he said. “Last year I had to beat a lot of guys in the camp to even get into the team.
“That’s why I love adversity, that’s what motivates me. I love it when people don’t take me into account.”