Matthew Stafford was the final piece of the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl equation last season, but lingering injury issues could damage LA’s chances of repeating. Stafford’s injured elbow was a quiet but meaningful storyline throughout the offseason, and there’s some belief it will prevent him from being able to carry the same load this season as he did during the Rams’ championship run in the NFL Playoffs.
Stafford has been one of the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL throughout his career. He has started every game in 10 of the last 11 seasons, including making all 21 starts for the Rams last year throughout the regular season and playoffs. Now age-34, Stafford needs to continue to be at his best this season for the Rams to again dream about making another Super Bowl appearance. That success could rest on the status of his elbow.
What is Stafford’s injury and what treatment did he get over the offseason? Here’s everything we know.
Matthew Stafford injury: What’s wrong with QB?
Stafford’s elbow was reportedly bothering him shortly after the Rams won the Super Bowl. NFL insider Ian Rapoport described the injury as “bad tendonitis” during training camp.
“My understanding, this elbow issue actually cropped up in the spring, is described to me as bad tendonitis,” Rapoport said. “It is a tendon issue in his throwing elbow.”
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Stafford’s injury has been called “thrower’s elbow” and is more commonly found in baseball players. In fact, Stafford and childhood friend Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly had the same injury and rehab over the offseason, according to NFL.com.
Sean McVay described Stafford’s elbow pain as “a little bit abnormal for a quarterback,” during training camp. The Rams tried to take a cautious approach with a long-term view for Stafford throughout training camp.
What procedure did Matthew Stafford have done in offseason?
Stafford had a non-surgical procedure to help ease his elbow pain over the offseason. The Rams QB had a PRP injection in his right elbow. Again, Kershaw also had a PRP injection.
Last October, Kershaw revealed he received a PRP injection in his left flexor tendon and that was the only treatment he would receive. It was the same for Stafford, who had a PRP injection into a similar area, as well as a non-surgical procedure involved in healing the elbow.
What is a PRP injection? It uses a patient’s own blood cells to accelerate healing in a specific area, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. In this way, PRP injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.
What Matthew Stafford, Rams are saying about QB’s injury
Stafford did not throw during spring workouts and was put on a “throwing schedule” during training camp. As the Rams entered Week 1 against the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills, the team is saying Stafford has “no limitations.”
“I feel good,” Stafford said. “I’m ready to go. No limitations. … I feel great. I’m ready to go play. Can always be better. Can always try to feel like I’m 21 again. I’ll keep trying. But no, I feel really good. I feel like I can make every throw.”
Stafford “has now concluded a six-month rehab designed to make his elbow strong enough to withstand the rigors of the season,” according to NFL.com.
McVay said he would have no hesitation about Stafford potentially throwing the ball 50 times per game, but there’s been speculation throughout the offseason that LA may become more reliant on short passes and the running game offensively.
Last season with the Rams, Stafford threw for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns to 17 interceptions, and 8.1 yards per attempt, which was the second-highest YPA of his career. Then he and Rams went on a tear in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.
Will Stafford’s elbow allow him to repeat the same performance this year? Time will tell.