This season comes off as a reversal of his 2021 transition to the Los Angeles Rams for Matthew Stafford. The last time he was in a room with 40 or more new faces, he was the new guy adjusting to the place.
Now during OTAs that officially began on Monday, May 22 in Thousand Oaks, Stafford is seeing a lot more newcomers — but this time rookies with a 14-member draft class and 26 undrafted free agents invited to the Rams. Yet, two of the more intriguing ones are guys Stafford will soon feed the ball to in wide receiver Puka Nacua and running back Zach Evans. The Super Bowl 56 winner shared with the L.A. media his early take on both additions to the offense.
Stafford Likes Early Exposure for the BYU Cougar
One aspect Stafford likes about the rookie class including the new wideout Nacua: the early exposure.
Another words, getting acclimated with the new digs and offense especially in learning a more complex scheme.
“Yeah, it’s been good exposure for those guys. I know it’s probably a lot for those guys right now, but it’s a lot of fun to kind of try to teach them on the fly and they’re doing a great job of trying to grasp what they can grasp and lean on the vets to kind of help them out along the way,” Stafford began.
But while it’s early, what has he seen so far from the 6-foot-1, 206-pound BYU Cougar who the Rams got to know at his Pro Day workout?
“Puka has done a nice job. He’s gotten some reps really in all three groups,” Stafford said. “Every time I look up, he’s running around somewhere. So, he’s done a nice job, made some catches for us. But it’s really just trying to develop all these guys. Let them see what an NFL practice looks like, what it feels like, how to stay off the ground, all those kinds of things. And that’s what this time is for and then just trying to get out there and execute our offense.”
Nacua was brought in to help reignite an offense that fell to 32nd in yards. He told the L.A. media after being selected that he plans to bring “physicality and toughness” as well as a “smart awareness” and versatility to the Rams. He also added this early message:
“I’m capable of making big plays from any position I get lined up at.”
Stafford Revealed Difficulty in Early Evans Assessment
Stafford, meanwhile, was asked if he’s seen anything that stands out right away from the rookie running back out of Ole Miss and TCU Evans.
“It’s probably one of the toughest positions this time of year to really evaluate just considering nobody’s getting tackled and those guys make their money breaking tackles, so it’s hard to see,” Stafford said.
However, he has noticed how diligent Evans is in trying to soak up the playbook.
“I know that he is doing a great job just trying to learn as much as he possibly can,” Stafford said. “This is a complex system that a lot of people come in from college step into and go, ‘Holy cow this is a lot.’ So you’re just doing everything you can to work hard, be here, and try to soak it up.”
While Evans is learning the Rams’ ways, he does love the fact the franchise moved up in the sixth round of the draft to take him in.
“It means a lot,” Evans told the L.A. media after getting selected. “I’m ready to get to work, ready to give this team everything I’ve got, ready to showcase my talents, you know I’m just real thankful to be here.”