Tough times for Robert Woods, but he’s ‘part’ of the Rams race

The three months have been difficult for Robert Woods.

In November, the veteran Rams wide receiver suffered a season-ending knee injury during a non-contact practice drill, keeping him out of the team’s run to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. .

A few weeks ago, his father, Robert II, died suddenly.

But Woods, 29, said Tuesday he was staying positive and enjoying the Rams’ success.

“There’s so much to embrace and so much joy when you really think about it,” Woods said during a videoconference with reporters. “Obviously there are sad times losing my dad, but, like, that’s what my dad wanted. He would like us to win a championship, win a Super Bowl here. … I have the feels like it’s an emotion of ups and downs, but when you really look at the joy and the accomplishments that I’ve made, my teammates have made, there’s so much joy that it overshadows the pain.

Woods, who grew up in Carson, played at Gardena Serra High and was an All-American at USC. He played four seasons with the Buffalo Bills before signing with the Rams in 2017. He was key to the Rams’ run to the playoffs that first season under coach Sean McVay and to Super Bowl LIII this season. 2018, the first of two consecutive years. years, he had over 1,000 receiving yards.

One game into the 2020 season, Woods signed a four-year extension that included $32 million in guarantees, according to spotrac.com.

In nine games this season, he had 45 catches, including four for touchdowns. But a day after the arrival of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was signed to augment the receiving corps, Woods suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Beckham has become a key contributor for an offense that also includes quarterback Matthew Stafford and receivers Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson. But coaches and teammates said Woods fulfilled many intangible roles beyond wide receiver, tackle, captain and team manager.

“You never replace a player like Robert,” McVay said.

Making up for what Woods has provided has been “an ongoing process throughout the season,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said.

“Just because of the many jobs he did on a snap basis,” O’Connell said. “Not only catching the football, but his impact in the running game, the screen game, his ability after the catch to generate explosives.

“He’s such a unique and special player for us.”

Rams wide receiver Robert Woods goes out of bounds after catching the Detroit Lions at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 24.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Kupp achieved the so-called triple receiving crown this season by leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. Woods, he said, has helped him develop since 2017, when Woods was a newly signed free agent and Kupp a third-round draft pick.

Kupp said he’s heard “horror stories” of what an NFL receivers’ boardroom might look like and how rookies were treated.

But Woods embraced it.

“From the beginning, he did nothing but allow me to be what I could be,” Kupp said. “He gave me all the tools, he never hid anything from me. Just took me under his wing, taught me, coached me, showed me day after day what we was waiting to play in this position.

“He was my role model from day one. I owe a ton to Rob Woods and what he’s given me over the past five years and continues to show me. … He’s going to be my brother for the rest of our lives.

Woods watched the NFC Championship Game win over the San Francisco 49ers from the stands. Afterwards, he hugged Kupp and other teammates on the court.

Rams wide receiver Robert Woods looks on during a game against the Houston Texans.

Rams wide receiver Robert Woods looks on during a game against the Houston Texans October 31 in Houston.

(Matt Patterson/Associated Press)

“I was emotional for my pops and just said, ‘Congrats guys,'” Woods said. “They said, ‘Come here, brother. We are not worried about this.

“It meant so much, for the team-mates to be there for me. There’s so much going on with football and football. [NFC] championship and the Super Bowl, but I felt like the team was always supportive and inclusive of me.

In 2018, Kupp suffered a season-ending knee injury that kept him out of the Super Bowl run. Woods said Kupp advised him on the recovery process and not being able to play in the Super Bowl.

Woods said he expects to be ready to return via offseason minicamp, but will rehabilitate at his own pace and not rush the process as he prepares for the 2022 season.

When not in rehabilitation, he attended meetings and provided commentary on games.

“I could sit here and mope and say, ‘I wish I was over there. The team wins the Super Bowl ring without me,” he said. “But I’m part of it, man.”

Woods said he wants the Rams to add to “LA’s legacy” by joining the Lakers, Dodgers and Kings as teams that have won championships. On Sunday, he will be on the sidelines in the Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m excited for the guys,” he said. “We just have to win. One more.”

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