With nearly 40 rookies on Rams’ roster, what do they have?

It feels different.

Not because the Rams are coming off the worst season-after performance by a Super Bowl champion in NFL history. And not because they traded and released star players and made no effort to replace them with comparable talent.

For coach Sean McVay and the few stars and proven veteran players who remain, the 2023 season will begin as a departure because of the preponderance of unproven players.

As the Rams begin training camp at UC Irvine, the roster includes nearly 40 rookies.

“That’s absolutely crazy,” veteran right tackle Rob Havenstein said, chuckling, as players reported Tuesday to a Newport Beach hotel.

Said McVay: “There’s never been more competition, more uncertainty in a positive way with any team since we’ve been here. … I’m excited to be able to figure out how can we maximize this group and see what that looks like.”

The Rams play the Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos in preseason games before opening the season at Seattle with an NFC West showdown.

Here are six questions facing the Rams as camp begins:

Are the Rams all-in — or all about next year and beyond? In May, after the Rams uncharacteristically failed to make any marquee acquisitions, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff sent a letter to season-ticket holders. The message: Bear with us while we pay our bills and look to the future. But we still expect to make a run to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.


One could reasonably argue that winning the Super Bowl two years ago at SoFi Stadium justifies last season’s disaster and this season’s low expectations — oddsmakers put the Rams’ over-under for victories at 6½.

But this is Los Angeles. A wait-till-next year spending plan does not bode well for a pro franchise still trying to penetrate a market dominated by the Lakers and Dodgers.

Is coach Sean McVay fully committed to seeing this through? At the end of each of the last two seasons, McVay flirted with stepping away from coaching.

Now, as he begins his seventh season, he has said he’s revitalized and in a better place mentally to focus on the challenge ahead.

McVay hired 10 new coaches. He claims to have regained the perspective that helped him lead his team to Super Bowl appearances twice in his first five seasons.

And he said Tuesday that he and his wife, Veronika, are expecting the birth of a son in late October.

For a coach only 37 years old, it will be another season of firsts.

 Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during camp.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) has looked good throwing passes during camp practices.

(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Can quarterback Matthew Stafford bounce back? After leading the Rams to a Super Bowl title and signing a $120-million extension, Stafford suffered a concussion and spinal injury and played only nine games last year.

Now at 35, Stafford is preparing for his 15th season.

Based on his performances during offseason workouts open to reporters, Stafford appears to be well past the right elbow tendinitis that prevented him from throwing passes during last year’s offseason workouts and limited him during training camp.

But if the offensive line does not improve drastically from last season, Stafford will be vulnerable again.

Fourth-round draft pick Stetson Bennett, winner of two national titles at Georgia, is the presumed backup, though the Rams also have fifth-year pro Brett Rypien on the roster.

Are Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp recovered from ankle surgeries? Donald was a veritable ironman in his first nine seasons. Last year, however, the star defensive lineman sat out the last six games because of an ankle injury and finished with a career-low five sacks.

As per custom, Donald did not participate in most of the Rams’ offseason program, preferring to prepare in hometown Pittsburgh. Donald, 32, carries a team-high $26-million salary-cap number this season.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs a drill with coach Sean McVay.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp (10), returning from an ankle injury, looked healthy while running drills, above with coach Sean McVay.

(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

For years, Donald played alongside veterans such as Michael Brockers, A’Shawn Robinson and Leonard Floyd. Now he will be flanked by less-proven players.

Kupp, 30, was on track to carry a team-high salary-cap number of $27.8 million until the Rams restructured his deal to make it $17.4 million.

Kupp, the 2021 NFL offensive player of the year, caught 75 passes in nine games last season before he suffered the season-ending injury.

He was absent for most of the offseason program to be with his wife as they awaited the birth of their third child, but he participated in the latter part of the program and appeared to be near full speed.

Is there any way to adequately replace Jalen Ramsey? Go ahead, criticize Ramsey for getting beaten in coverage a few times last season. The Rams were not going to offer the star cornerback a huge extension, but there is a reason why the Miami Dolphins were more than happy to trade for the chance to do so. As offensive coordinators and quarterbacks must do with Donald, they have to account for Ramsey at all times.

Second-year pros Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick, third-year pro Robert Rochell and rookie Tre Tomlinson were the top cornerbacks during offseason workouts. The Rams then added veteran Ahkello Witherspoon.

Veteran Jordan Fuller and second-year pros Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake are the top safeties.

Pro Football Focus projected the Rams’ secondary as the worst in the NFL.

Will special teams be anything special? Chase Blackburn, the new special teams coordinator, will oversee units that include a new kicker, punter and long snapper.

Not exactly a confidence boost for a team that let 2021 Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay leave as a free agent.

Tanner Brown is the only kicker, Ethan Evans the only punter and Alex Ward the lone long snapper on the roster entering camp.