It’s hard to know what irritates Matthew Stafford more — soreness in his right elbow, or questions from reporters about it.
The Rams quarterback on Saturday attempted to put out the flames of concern that erupted this week when coach Sean McVay said the 14th-year pro was working through a condition that is “abnormal” for a quarterback.
“I’m not too worried about what it’s called or whether its abnormal or not or whatever,” Stafford said after practice at UC Irvine. “What I’m worried about here: How did I feel, let’s continue to progress and get better.”
Though Stafford described it as “a little soreness” and McVay again said he did not know the term for what Stafford is working through, a person with knowledge of the situation said this week that Stafford is coping with tendonitis.
Stafford played through pain last season, passed for 41 touchdowns, and led the Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
After the season he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his arm. He also signed an extension that includes $120 million in guarantees.
Stafford did not throw passes during offseason workouts and the Rams are attempting to manage his workload during training camp.
Does that qualify as a chronic condition?
“Oh no,” Stafford said. “I’m just going through something that is irritating at the moment, but I’m working through it.
“We got a great plan, I’m feeling stronger every time I come out here and throw.”
On Saturday, Stafford looked as if he was in perfect shape, firing short, mid-range and long passes during individual drills and seven-on seven sessions. He is being held out of full-team drills.
“I felt like I could make any throw I wanted to,” he said, adding, “and just trying to be smart when I get those opportunities and make sure I can come out here, cut it loose, turn it loose like I did and go from there.”
McVay said Stafford’s performance showed the Rams are “very much on track” with their plan to make sure that Stafford is ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills and beyond.
“The ball was jumping out of his hand, making all types of throws,” McVay said. “I think he was trying to show [reporters] that, you know, probably not many questions you can ask him either based on how he felt and how he was throwing it around.”
Questions, of course, remain about how Stafford will hold up for a team that is attempting to become the first since 2004 to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Stafford attempted to sound as if he were surprised by the reaction to McVay’s “abnormal” comment earlier in the week. McVay also said it was more along the lines of an injury that major league baseball players deal with.
“It’s gotten a lot more traction than I would have thought,” Stafford said, adding, “But to be honest, it doesn’t really change my life any.
“I’m just sticking to the plan and trying to get to feeling as good as I can so I can go out there and play really good football all year.”
During his 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, Stafford suffered numerous injuries, including arm issues. He has thrown more than 7,000 passes in regular-season and playoff games, according to Profootballreference.com. And that does not count thousands of passes thrown in workouts.
“I’m not going to get too granular into how we got to this point,” he said. “I don’t think that is the sole cause of it but I’m sure it contributes to it.
“Any time you put on an arm through as much stress as I have over the years, it’s not going to look like [a reporter’s] elbow, but it’s not one of those things that the more I throw the worse it’s going to get. It’s just a balancing act at this point.”