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Field of dreams behind Kupp’s golden year

Los Angeles (AFP) – Three years after the devastation of missing out on the Super Bowl through injury, Cooper Kupp has bounced back from that disappointment with one of the best seasons in NFL history.

The Los Angeles Rams wide receiver has electrified the league this year with his dynamic play, amassing a mighty 1,947 yards — the second-most in a single season ever — from 145 catches.

The 28-year-old also achieved the rare Triple Crown by leading the NFL in yards, catches and touchdowns — making him only the fourth player to do so since 1970.

Crucially, Kupp has formed a telepathic understanding with new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

The duo combined for a 44-yard completion to set up a game-winning field goal that eliminated Tom Brady and Tampa Bay in the divisional round.

While Kupp has always been one of the Rams’ most consistent performers, this season’s remarkable gains follow a decision the receiver made last year to build his own home training facility.

That meant converting a barn into an indoor practice field that allowed him to devote time to honing his craft during the offseason.

“I was able to do all my work at home, not have to drive around to find a field,” Kupp told reporters.

“The football season is long but I felt great this year.”

It is all part of a scientific approach to training that Kupp hopes will give him an edge. 

There is also a cerebral streak to Kupp’s play: the receiver has adapted a tactical concept used by fighter pilots to the football field — the so-called “OODA (Observe, orient, decide, act) loop”.

“That’s football,” says Kupp. “Observe, orient, decide, act, over and over and over again. The quicker you do these things, the better you’re going to be.”

– Super Bowl heartache –

Kupp is hoping the extra work on the training field will pay off in Sunday’s clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, three years after watching from the sidelines as the Rams lost to the New England Patriots in Atlanta.

Kupp’s 2018-2019 campaign came to an abrupt end after a serious knee injury late in the regular season.

However that disappointment gave him a unique perspective he now views as a positive.

“Missing that Super Bowl, that’s one of the hardest things I’ve been through,” Kupp says. “The conflict it creates in you when you are both cheering and pulling for your guys, the guys that you spend so much time with. 

“You want them to succeed. But you know that every step of the way, every time they do succeed, it just hurts you that much more because you want to be a part of it as well. 

“It’s just that conflict within you that’s both equally wanting them to succeed and do it but also wanting to be there and knowing that you can’t be a part of it like you want to. 

“I’m grateful for that perspective, and I carry it with me. I make sure enjoy all the moments, each day I get to come in and prepare for this game.”

Kupp, whose father and grandfather both played in the NFL, never had any doubt that he would return from injury.

“At no point was there any doubt in my mind that I was going to be able to come back and be better than I was before,” he said.

“Pushing through when times get difficult, perseverance. It’s an important trait to have as an athlete, and as a human being in general. 

“If you have perseverance, you’re going to be able to push through a lot of things into some really great areas.”

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