Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams were certainly not expecting to have a clear-cut — and at times, dominant — No. 2 wide receiver behind All-Pro Cooper Kupp. And if they had any inkling that they would have a player of that caliber, they were not expecting that player to be rookie and fifth-round draft pick Puka Nacua.
Yet, as the regular season winds to a close, that’s exactly what they’ve found in the former BYU wideout.
Nacua is not only putting together one of the all-time great rookie seasons for a wide receiver, he has objectively been one of the NFL’s best receivers in 2023. His 96 catches on the year ranks fifth in all of football, right between MVP candidate Tyreek Hill and Philadelphia Eagles superstar A.J. Brown. He sits between the same two players, but in second place, for receiving yards with 1,327.
He has already broken several Rams receiving records for a rookie. He is six catches away from Anquan Boldin’s NFL record for receptions by a rookie and is 129 yards away from Ja’Marr Chase’s rookie receiving yards record since 1960. The Rams still have three games remaining on their schedule.
So with all of this history, it stands to reason that Nacua would be in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year. And if it were up to McVay, there is no doubt that he would get the award.
“He’s outstanding,” McVay said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the contributions and what a freaking run on the jet sweep, has a bunch of plays through the pass game. You guys have seen it week in and week out.
“You know, you talk about that balance. You can’t have the balance if you don’t have receivers that are willing to dig out support and do some of the things that he does. You see around the league, you know, Stroud has had a great year, but this guy is… he would get my vote. And he’s really special. But the best part about him is he doesn’t worry about those things. He worries about just being a great teammate, continuing to improve his game, and sure love this team. And he’s one of those guys that you really love.”
As it stands, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is the current runaway favorite to win the award. However, Nacua breaking both the reception and reception yards record would make a very compelling case in his favor.
The Offensive Rookie of the Year award has always leaned toward quarterbacks. But it can’t be ignored when a player like Nacua becomes a history maker right off the bat. And with the Rams currently in control of their own destiny to make the postseason, it’s clear that Nacua’s contributions have put them in this position.
Rams star Cooper Kupp reiterates hatred of turf
While Nacua goes about breaking nearly every rookie receiving record possible, the Rams are still getting strong production from their All-Pro wideout in Kupp. The star receiver recently turned his focus to turf after an injury-laden last calendar year.
“As you know, I hate it,” Kupp said. “I’m not a fan of turf in general and it’s obviously tough going back-to-back on a short week.
“But it is what it is. I know people are certainly aware of it. If there’s going to be change that’s going to come, it’s not because people don’t know, you know? So it is what it’s. Like I said, it’s the same thing about playing Thursday night. Everyone’s got to do it. Everyone’s got to get it done on turf and just part of this game and you got to deal with it.”
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