Mon Aug 10 6:50pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Robert Woods during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Los Angeles. Kupp and Woods spent the offseason getting kicked off various high school football fields while trying to get in some COVID-clandestine workouts. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Robert Woods spent his workdays during this bizarre NFL offseason sneaking over fences and through unlocked doors onto the fields and tracks of various Los Angeles-area high schools.
''You might see a gate open, so you hop on the track and get your work in,'' Woods said. ''The next day you may see somebody watching you on the track and they'll say, `Hey, what are you doing out here?' and then find ways to get you off the track. Next thing you know, you're shooting texts around trying to find another available track.''
Woods did some of that sneaky work with Cooper Kupp, his fellow 1,000-yard receiver with the Los Angeles Rams. These COVID-clandestine workouts with Jared Goff and other Rams were both unusual and entertaining.
''The regimen really consisted of getting kicked off just about every field here in Thousand Oaks, which was fun,'' Kupp said. ''If I jumped the fence, I wasn't supposed to be out there, probably. I just feel like as long as I'm not putting anyone in danger, I was going to ... ask for forgiveness instead of permission.''
Being star receivers for the Rams didn't help much in the time of coronavirus, not when the team's training complex was off limits and high schools weren't interested in knowingly hosting celebrity workouts.
''It worked for Day One, but it went above to somebody, and they got us kicked off,'' Woods said with a laugh.
Woods and Kupp are one of the NFL's most prolific and most reliable pass-catching duos of the past three seasons, but the steady receivers are about to get attention that often missed them.
With their crisp route-running, sure hands and consistent play, Woods and Kupp both had at least 90 catches and 1,100 yards receiving last season, relentlessly racking up numbers in coach Sean McVay's offense.
After running back Todd Gurley's release and receiver Brandin Cooks' departure in a trade by the cost-cutting Rams during the offseason, Woods and Kupp are likely to shoulder extra work and responsibility in the fall. They're approaching it with the same workmanlike attitude that got them to where they are.
''I think we're not like the flashiest group of receivers,'' said Woods, the first Rams receiver to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Torry Holt in 2007.
''But we're just up there with production - up there with the best, if not the best,'' Woods added. ''That's the biggest goal of our whole receiving corps, not only to do what we did last year, but to be even more dominant in the passing game and the running game, to make bigger plays. You know, we break a few tackles, but we want to break them all.''
They also don't have to do an enormous amount of learning this year: The 28-year-old Woods and the 27-year-old Kupp are heading into their fourth seasons in coach Sean McVay's offense, and that familiarity makes everything easier.
''We've got such a good rapport at this point, we're getting to the point where you don't really have to talk to each other,'' said Goff, who has been McVay's quarterback for all four years. ''You kind of just look at each other and you know what each other are thinking.''
Woods and Kupp will have help, too. Josh Reynolds is back after three seasons spent largely as the Rams' fourth receiver, although he stepped up when Kupp went down with a season-ending knee injury in 2018, eventually making three catches in the Super Bowl.
The Rams also drafted Florida product Van Jefferson in the second round, proving that this franchise definitely loves a certain type of receiver.
Jefferson's smooth speed, precise route-running and sure hands led to innumerable pre-draft comparisons to none other than Woods and Kupp. General manager Les Snead touted the comparison moments after drafting Jefferson, who had described both veterans as role models for his NFL career even before he knew he would be playing alongside them.
Jefferson showed up early in the Thousand Oaks area and participated in some of those not-so-secret Rams workouts, picking the veteran wideouts' brains for info. McVay is pleased to see Woods and Kupp stepping up to take a new level of responsibility in his offense.
''Watching those two and their communication amongst one another or with Jared, it's really impressive,'' McVay said. ''In some instances, it's good as a coach where you can just step back and let them take that autonomy and ownership, because it's certainly earned.''
Sunday Morning Update: Week 3
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard posted a total of 11 stops with a tackle for loss and a pass defensed in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts CB T.J. Carrie finished with four tackles, a pass defensed and a 47-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts CB Xavier Rhodes finished with a solo tackle, two passes defensed and a 44-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts DE Justin Houston finished with a solo tackle, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a safety in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) caught five of his six targets for 64 yards and a touchdown before exiting with a hamstring injury in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: A week after being sidelined with a concussion, Godwin now has another injury to deal with. If he misses more time going forward, Scott Miller could vault into flex territory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans caught a pair of one-yard touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: It has been a strange season for Evans, who has sandwiched a pair of two-yard performances between a 100-yard game. He has scored in all three games, but Evans will need to see an increase in volume if he is going to finish as a WR1.
New York Jets WR Braxton Berrios registered four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown on his six targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Berrios helped pick up some of the slack with Jamison Crowder inactive due to an injury. That's two games and two scores for Berrios, who is likely to be a hot add off the waiver wire this season. He is worth grabbing as a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon posted three catches for 21 yards on five targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon opened with six grabs in Week 1, but he has managed just four catches for 26 yards on nine targets in his past two outings. That type of production isn't good for anyone in fantasy.
New York Jets S Bradley McDougald registered 10 total stops with five solo tackles in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold completed 17-of-29 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. He also ran five times for 20 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Darnold was without Jamison Crowder, and he was also without Le'Veon Bell for the second straight game. It didn't help not having two of his best offensive weapons, but he simply made too many mistakes. The Jets have a quick turnaround, facing the Denver Broncos on Thursday in Week 4. Darnold cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes.
New York Jets RB Frank Gore ran 15 times for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts and he added one reception for five yards on his only target.
Fantasy Spin: Gore has been picking up the slack with Le'Veon Bell inactive for a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. While Gore is getting a majority of the backfield touches ahead of La'Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage, it might only be a matter of time before Adam Gase elects to try the younger players. Fantasy buyer beware.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones rushed 13 times for 53 yards and caught two of his four targets for 20 yards in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: While it wasn't an overwhelming stat line, but after Leonard Fournette had a big Week 2, Jones resumed the lead role, leading all backs in carries and touches. The chances of Jones breaking into the RB2 ranks this year seem slim, but he should have value as a flex option.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) is expected to miss some time after leaving the Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to an ankle injury. He will have an MRI Monday, Sept. 28.
Fantasy Spin: With Goedert likely to miss time, Zach Ertz will once again suck up all of the tight end targets, and might re-emerge as a bona fide TE1 in fantasy after having to share the wealth in the first three games this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady completed 25 of his 38 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Brady had his best performance as a Buccaneer, but until he strings together a few strong outings, the veteran should still be treated as a matchup-based streaming option.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers and he was unable to return.
Fantasy Spin: That explains his lack of usage in the home loss to the Panthers. He managed just one catch for 17 yards on one target We'll know more about his status for Week 4 once practice resumes on Wednesday.
Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson (toe) left the Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Chargers due to a toe injury.
New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook (ankle) left the Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers. He headed for the medical tent initially, then was taken to the locker room.
Fantasy Spin: If Cook is unable to return, it will be Josh Hill likely handling Cook's workload. We'll update his injury status as soon as possible.
The Carolina Panthers Defense capitalized in Week 3 against a team starting a rookie quarterback on the Chargers. Carolina notched two sacks, eight quarterback hits, one pick, and three fumble recoveries. While this was an encouraging performance for a team that gave up over 30 points in the first two games, this type of performance should not be expected each week. The Panthers' defense is still a very young and inexperienced unit, and they face a tough test in a rising Cardinals team next week.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen caught three of his five targets for 29 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: The touchdown salvaged an otherwise quiet afternoon, and since a monster performance in Week 1, Thielen has just six catches for 60 yards in the last two games. He still has WR2 upside, but with Kirk Cousins struggling, boom-or-bust production could become the norm.
Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph caught two of his three targets for 11 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: It has been a quiet season for Rudolph, and he is sitting on four catches for 39 yards and a score after three games. He is a touchdown-dependent TE2.