Skip to main content

Rams News | Los Angeles Rams -

Rookie WR Puka Nacua standing out in OTAs 

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Puka Nacua may only have had the Rams' playbook for three weeks, but he's earned a reputation for being a fast-learner.

Los Angeles has moved the rookie wide receiver around and thrown a lot at him, yet he's handled it seamlessly.

"It's been fun. It's definitely been a lot, though," Nacua told Tuesday. "It's crazy. Like, my brothers had given me kind of an idea what it's been like – my brother's been in the league for eight years, and then my brother (Samson) did rookie camp with the Colts last season, so I had a formulated idea of what it would look like. But when it came, it blew my mind. It was actually way more than I thought, but it became a job. This is what I do all day, every day, but it's also what I wanted to do it as a little kid all day, every day. Seeing it in real time come true, it's so cool. It keeps me super excited. I love football. It's been a lot that they've been giving us, but they've been giving it to us the right way for us to consume it all. When I look back at what we've learned from day one, like holy cow, we've gotten a lot."

It's not out of the ordinary for the Rams to test their rookies in the spring, especially when veterans are occasionally absent during the voluntary portion of the offseason program. So, when does it become evident that a rookie has adapted to that learning curve?

"I referenced Puka, I think that's one of the things that he's done is he's processing so quickly," wide receiver Cooper Kupp said. "You go from thinking about the lines on the page to the reason we're running the concept, right? You go from just what the picture says, to what the 'why' is behind the picture. And I think that's the biggest difference is when you can get to that place. (When) you can get to the 'why' and you see someone playing that out…this is why that we're doing this and why I'm reacting this way. That's when you're like 'Okay, this person gets it. They're figuring it out.'"

Beyond that ability to quickly process information and translate it from the meeting room to the field, what's also helped Nacua is the presence of Kupp and quarterback Matthew Stafford. Head coach Sean McVay said Stafford has done a good job of taking Nacua under his wing to help him learn the offense.

McVay and Kupp both praised Nacua for his conscientious work ethic. McVay said it's been impressive how quickly Nacua has picked things up.

"He's got a great feel for attacking leverage, how to stick things, his timing on when he needs to show up for things and he's asking the right questions too," Kupp said. "I think that's the big thing. He's asking the right questions and as he gets more reps over and over as he gets to see these things, he's just going to get better and better. So, I'm really excited about him and the steps that he's going to be able to take over these next few months."

Nacua's own approach has made just as big of a difference. In addition to treating it like a job, he also relies more on absorbing information from the Rams' veterans rather than leaning on his own prior knowledge. Breaking lengthy playcalls down into segments has also helped him.

"As much as I feel like I've been trying my best to learn as much as (I can), they have been the biggest help to me of coaching me along the way and helping me and giving me gems with how they understand the offense and how I can best use my athletic ability out there," Nacua said of those veterans.

In getting these opportunities this spring, Nacua looks to continue building on what he's already learned later this summer and fall. And if he continues on his current trajectory, he'll continue to get a chance to compete for a role in the wide receiver rotation."

"He's a guy that we're expecting him to come in, expecting him to be able to contribute and compete," McVay said. "Every spot is going to be earned on this team, but I really like what he's done and I think it's a credit to everybody around him and his conscientiousness."

Related Content