After facing a downfall of negative injury news, the Los Angeles Rams appeared close to flipping the script, with last year's second-leading receiver Van Jefferson nearing a return following "minor" knee surgery during training camp.
However, as has been the case for much of the early portion of the season, things didn't necessarily go according to plan, as the Rams placed Jefferson on the injured reserve Saturday.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, the decision has nothing to do with the speed or progress of Jefferson's recovery, according to coach Sean McVay.
“There wasn't any sort of setback," said McVay. "The goal for us was that it would be in a couple weeks. He had been making really good progress and that's been in alignment, but there's a lot of layers to whether we put a guy on IR or not, that's not exclusive to just that person in particular."
The injured reserve comes with an automatic four-game absence, meaning Jefferson will miss the Rams' next three games - at San Francisco, vs. Dallas, and vs. Carolina - but will be eligible to return following the Rams' Week 7 bye week, when the team hosts the 49ers.
Per McVay, the timing of the bye week was a critical factor to making the decision on when - and whether - to place Jefferson on IR, as the additional week off can be valuable in his recovery.
"I think when you look at where the bye was going to fall for us, we had to make that decision and designation so that you don't end up restricting his ability to return after the bye," revealed McVay. "That really bought him an extra couple weeks. There wasn't any setbacks. There was a lot of layers to it, but we do expect that to be short term."
Jefferson's stint on injured reserve being "short" only further validates McVay's remarks about the third-year pro's recovery process. With Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson holding down the fort at receiver and Ben Skowronek emerging as a complementary weapon, the Rams don't have much of a need to rush Jefferson's return.
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How quickly is the former third-round draft pick healing? Had Jefferson not been placed on injured reserve, the Rams were targeting a return in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers, said McVay.
Nevertheless, Los Angeles went the conservative route and will be playing the long game with its blossoming 26-year-old. Despite being on the shelf throughout the entirety of the preseason, Jefferson is likely to take on a solid workload shortly after he returns.
Barring setbacks, the date - Oct. 30 - has been set, and McVay will enter with just one expectation.
"We expect him to be ready to roll," McVay said.
You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft
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