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Puka Nacua entering Year 2: 'The standard is still set very high, and I don't think I'm close to reaching it'

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Puka Nacua raised the bar for a rookie season by an NFL wide receiver in historic fashion in 2023, but by his own admission, it's nowhere close to the very high standard he has for himself – in part because of an accomplished veteran teammate within the Rams' wide receiver room.

"I feel like I'm still trying to reach Coop's expectations," Nacua said Monday after Day 1 of the Rams' offseason program, referring to Cooper Kupp. "Because he set the standard for us in the wide receiver room and for a lot of receivers in the NFL. I mean, to be the triple-crown winner. I just mentioned it to him not too long ago, I don't know how wide receivers have won a Super Bowl MVP.

"The standard is still set very high, and I don't think I'm close to reaching it."


So far, he's doing everything he can to make sure of it.

That includes spending the last two months at Kupp's house working out with him and getting to interact with him on a regular basis – "right before the Super Bowl, he was already starting his integration to getting to work out," Nacua said. They worked on mobility stuff, maintaining explosiveness, top-end speed and conditioning.

"His conditioning days were some of the tougher ones," Nacua said. "I remember the first week I came back, I think I threw up every day of the week. He wasn't a fan of that, because it was on his lawn and stuff. He was like, 'you're throwing up in my bushes Puka, thanks.' But it was super fun, and then to come back in today, it felt like I didn't miss a beat. There was kind of an idea of, 'Oh, I don't know what I'm going to do for the offseason.' But following Coop's plan made it super easy and centered me in the right way."

The physical part of that also includes a new mindset and greater focus on recovery, especially with his bruising playing style and what he played through last season. Nacua said that last year, he had a one-day-at-a-time mentality, and the next step in the recovery phase was seeing how much Kupp put into it.

"As much as we were working out hard in the offseason, he was recovering just as hard," Nacua said. "Taking the nutrition into it, but having the people who do body work outside of the facility, finding ways to constantly recover. If I'm going to have a 2 hour workout period, in the 22 other hours of the day, how else can I recover and gain an advantage?"

Nacua is laying the groundwork to meet the lofty expectations he has for himself. Just as he did last fall and winter, he's learning a lot this spring, and knows there's more to be accomplished.

"It made it fun, because I know that there's more to grab," Nacua said. "Last year was so much fun and I learned a lot, but there's still so much left on the table, especially – Coop is the mastermind of running routes. He was very open and honest with me in where I can improve, so it was a huge blessing."

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