Rams News: Puka Nacua Explains How He First Approach Cooper Kupp For Advice In Rookie Season

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

The hamstring injury to Cooper Kupp at the beginning of the 2023 season ended up being a blessing in disguise for the Los Angeles Rams as it allowed rookie Puka Nacua to emerge.

The selected Nacua in the fifth round out of BYU, and players drafted that late usually don’t contribute right away. With Kupp out though, Nacua burst on the scene in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks and never looked back en route to a historic rookie season.

Having the chance to learn from a great player like Kupp definitely helped Nacua early on in his rookie season as well. In an interview on ‘The Rush with Maxx Crosby’ podcast, Nacua explained how he first approached Kupp for advice:

“I tried to work into the Breakfast Club, which I didn’t know was a thing, it was just like we’re all in the facility, people show up early. But they wake up way before I do. I’m catching like the back 45 minutes of that Breakfast Club coming in. But I would just sit in the meetings and then when Coop when down, it was like oh, Puk, you’re in these. But I was also kind of getting some reps with the ones getting sprinkled in here and there, so I just thought it was so funny, like they weren’t unintentionally not talking to me, but they’d roll through that clicker with the tape, they’re fast forwarding, pausing, looking at a specific thing. They sometimes are saying it and then they’re not, but Coop would be in there and he would take the time to talk to me. Especially in those first 4-5 weeks before he came back, I was blessed to get I guess like a luxury treatment as a fifth rounder. I remember I hurt my ribs after Week 1 in Seattle and I didn’t practice all the way until us playing the 49ers until like Friday, Friday in helmets when we’re just like fine-tuning the game plan, fast Friday. So me and Coop were like watching everybody practice and we’re talking and I’m like I love basketball, I’m talking to him all the time like ‘Yeah, I’d hit you with this crossover.’ I guess that was my way to kind of ask him about route running because Coop is a pretty quiet guy, I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to him. Very lowkey, but he’s the man. One of the best route runners of all-time. A student of the game. So that was my way to get him to kind of teach me, like you’ve run all these routes before, like at the top of the seven cut, like OK, if he’s trailing on my inside hip, how do I set up to win? Or do I just triple or go one now or do I just take it now? We started having those conversations like on the side and after just that Week 1 in Seattle. Then that happened for the five weeks that he was gone and then when he came back, it was like now we’re in meetings, now we’re in practice… Just being able to understand like OK, I can come in and the last 45 minutes of them watching tape, I can start to look OK, how do IO see myself in what we’re watching or how do I ask questions if I’m just watching this specific guy. I know they’re looking at all of this but I’m like OK, I can’t look at all of it but how do I narrow it do to one guy and ask questions?”

When it comes to playing wide receiver in the NL, there is no one better to learn from than Kupp as he is a former triple crown winner that is arguably the best route runner in the game.

Now as Nacua heads into his second NFL season, not only will he be able to continue learning from Kupp, but he will also be able to instill some of that knowledge he has picked up on the team’s younger receivers as well.

Tyreek Hill includes Rams’ Puka Nacua in top five

One of the other best receivers in the league currently is Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins. Nacua already seems to have gained Hill’s respect as he included the Rams wide out in his top-five list after the 2023 season.

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