Skip to main content

Rams News | Los Angeles Rams -

Puka Nacua's humility, enjoyment remain unchanged amid attention-getting rookie campaign

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The goals were fairly simple and straightforward when wide receiver Puka Nacua first joined the Rams, like getting down the blocking for a staple run concept in the offense. 

Not among them, though, was eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards. 

"No, definitely not," Nacua said with a laugh this week. "I remember that some of the first things was just trying to make sure I could get our duo blocks when I first got here. So trying to make what (pass game specialist) coach (Jake) Peetz has given me and asking Benny Skow and Coop. So to think that that's where we are now, it's been it's been a long journey, and all the people that have helped me along the way, I'm extremely grateful for." 

Judging by his play this season, Nacua has a good grasp of those blocks. He also wound up reaching that 1,000-yard milestone, a franchise-first which came after already breaking Eddie Kennison's 1996 team record for receiving yards by a rookie in a single season. 

Through it all, he's "having a blast" and maintaining the same joy and humility shown all season, even as his fame has reached unexpected levels in his first season. 

Take, for example, LeBron James' congratulatory post on X (formerly known as Twitter) when Nacua broke Kennison's record. When Nacua was asked about it this week, it was tough for him to find the words at first.

"It's still mind blowing to me," Nacua said. "When I get to come in, and I say good morning to Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp in the quarterback room, and that's always something sweet. No matter what, if I have to come in for treatment, I try to start my day off with that, because that's always a good one. I get to say hi those guys in the morning, like, something's going right for me. But then, I'm a huge LeBron stan, so stuff like that definitely doesn't go over my head. Sending that in the group chat, saved in my (phone). If my girlfriend wasn't my screensaver, the LeBron post would be. But just having a blast, having fun, trying to make sure – my motto has been one day at a time, and I'm still trying to stick true to that because it's helped me get to where I'm at, so it's the plan to help get me to where I want to go."

Not everything has been as glamorous as that recognition – see the various injuries Nacua has dealt with to this point – but the way Nacua has handled those ebbs and flows of his rookie season has impressed veteran teammates like wide receiver Cooper Kupp. 

"Yeah, he's been consistent," Kupp said Thursday. "He's weathered ups and downs. I think that's one of the more impressive things of what he has done. He's obviously a great football player but coming in and being able to weather the highs and the lows, which I think as a rookie can be tough, being able to keep your head up through some tough stuff. He's done a great job of that. I think that's one of those things that…Puka's a steady guy. He's going to be Puka every day and it makes him what he is. He's done a very good job of that." 

A big part of that consistency has been taking care of himself and ensuring he's following protocol when it comes to getting the recovery and treatment his body needs as he's dealt with different injuries from his physical style of play. 

Nacua admitted this week he's hurting a "little bit," but tries to make up for that with his recovery and going to bed early. Movement is critical, too. 

"Motion is lotion is the best thing for me," Nacua said. "From some of the vets, that's the one thing I've learned – sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself won't make you feel better for Wednesday practice."

The NFL rookie records for receptions (104 by Jaylen Waddle in 2022) and receiving yards (1,473 in 1960) are both within striking distance for Nacua across the final four weeks of the season. 

Whether he reaches them or not, he'll keep the same joy and perspective that has helped him achieve immediate succcess in his first season.

Related Content