The Los Angeles Rams look as though they are going to be without star wide receiver Cooper Kupp for at least the next few weeks as he recovers from a hamstring injury. In the meantime, Matthew Stafford will get plenty of time with the Rams other wide receivers, including rookie Puka Nacua.
The Washington and BYU fifth-round pick figures to play a role in the Rams offense this season after strong junior and senior campaigns in Utah. And with Kupp out, he may be taking on even more responsibilities that could land him a larger role when the season begins.
Stafford is already impressed with what he’s seen from Nacua, as well as the rest of the Rams offense, but is waiting to make any grand determinations about the group’s ceiling without Kupp.
“Yeah, he did a nice job, made some nice plays. Drew a pass interference on a long ball down there which I thought was a nice play by him, a little bit underthrown by me. So, nice play by him jumping back into the defender on that one, getting that call for us,” Stafford said.”(Wide Receiver) Tutu (Atwell) made a nice catch in traffic over the middle of the field. Puka made some nice plays. (Tight End Tyler Higbee) ‘Higs’ did his thing as usual.
“Some things to always clean up. It’s kind of hard to give you my full assessment right now, but (I’ll) take a look at the tape and learn from it, come out here tomorrow and try to be better.”
Stafford wants the wide receiver group to take a more holistic approach to improving as a unit rather than focusing on any one specific area of need without Kupp.
“Just continue to get better. I don’t think there’s one area that we sit there and go, ‘Oh, we’ve got this locked down, let’s go work on these,’ or anything like that. I think we’re just all trying to be as good and complete a player as we can possibly be, that group included,” Stafford said.
“We’ve got some guys who’ve been here who are more comfortable in the system and are working through physical things that they’re trying to get better at or whatever it is and then we have guys that are newer to the system that are trying to catch up to what we’re doing as quickly as possible. That’s a big ask as well. So everybody’s kind of in different stages and we’re all just trying to help each other out and move forward.”
Implementing Kupp back into the group should be an easy transition given the immense talent and high IQ he brings with him. But having some time for the other receivers to get comfortable within the system may provide some long-term benefits for the team.
As Stafford learns more about his receiving core, he’ll be able to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses to get the best out of each player.
Sean McVay impressed with Stetson Bennett
Another Rams rookie making a strong impression at training camp is Stafford’s likely backup, Stetson Bennett. Sean McVay has already taken note of the Georgia rookie’s veteran poise.
“He’s done good. I thought he had a good day today. I thought the receivers and tight ends, I thought guys made plays for him but he’s pretty steady. You know, what I really like about him is if a play doesn’t go well, he’s able to reset himself and go to the next play.”