Cooper Kupp made his official return to the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday, June 6 as he was away on paternity leave. But while there was excitement from Rams Twitter for the return of the franchise’s top wide receiver and Super Bowl 56 Most Valuable Player, Kupp went ahead and shared his excitement for somebody else: a new addition to the Rams’ offense.
Kupp himself has become a fan of rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua.
“He’s pretty special,” Kupp began with the L.A. media following a rainy practice in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, June 6. “If he has a good trajectory, he’s going to be a very good football player in this league.”
Kupp Speaks on the BYU Cougar’s Work Ethic
While Kupp hasn’t officially gotten the chance to run routes next to the BYU Cougar standout during the Rams’ organized team activities (OTAs), the seventh-year wideout has taken a glance at how Nacua operates on the practice field next to the Cal Lutheran campus.
“I love the way that he attacks each day,” Kupp shared. “He’s got a great feel for the game.”
A previous scouting report done by Bleacher Report wrote down how Nacua had “good speed,” “great burst and explosion” and could “run a vertical route tree effectively.” However, B/R identified how Nacua had a limited route tree in Provo, Utah — which placed the Cougars in a position where he had to be used as a gadget player.
Kupp, though, gave a detailed scouting report on what he’s seen from the newest Ram from a receiving skills standpoint.
“[He’s] got great feel for leverage and running routes,” Kupp said.
He added how Nacua has been a strong processor in picking up the routes and concepts of the Rams offense.
“You know, you come in and you’re running new concepts and things like that…but things you’ve done before to get open might not fit within the realm of the things we want to do here. But he’s managed to transition so quickly over to understanding what the parameters are,” Kupp said. “He’s got a great feel for attacking leverage plus how to stick things with timing on when he needs to show up for things. And he’s asking the right questions. I’m really excited about him.”
Sean McVay Reacts to What He’s Seen From Nacua
Kupp has seen already how fast of a learner Nacua is. But does his head coach Sean McVay see the same thing?
“It’s been really impressive how quickly he’s gotten up to speed,” McVay said of Nacua to L.A. reporters. “I think you can’t say enough about (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber, (Offensive Line Assistant) KJ Black, (Pass Game Specialist) Jake Peetz, those guys have done a great job and he’s really conscientious.”
There’s more that’s benefitting Nacua: his new teammates.
“(QB) Matthew (Stafford) has done a great job of really just kind of taking him under his wing and being able to kind of just help give those little nuances, having (WR) Cooper (Kupp) back [as well]. So he’s smart, he’s conscientious,” McVay said. “It’s hard to really compare to anybody because a lot of those guys, whether you talk about (former Rams WR) Robert (Woods’) first year, Cooper’s rookie year, having (former Rams WR) Sammy (Watkins) but then ended up having (former Rams WR) Brandin Cooks, there’s been a standard set in that room where there’s been really conscientious players. Even if you go with (former Rams WR) Josh Reynolds, how quickly (WR) Van (Jefferson) has done a great job of grasping the offense. And so, he’s a guy that we’re expecting him to come in, expecting him to be able to contribute and compete.”
While the rookie has won over the head coach and the Rams’ most dynamic wideout, it’s still not set in stone that Nacua will get lots of action. But, by the wording of both, the Cougar is off to a great start.
“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,” McVay said.