One of the best stories in the NFL through two weeks has been the emergence of Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, who has become Matthew Stafford’s favorite target in the absence of Cooper Kupp.
Through his first four career games, Nacua has the most receptions (39) and yards (501) ever for a receiver. He had perhaps his best performance in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts when he hauled in nine catches for 163 yards and his first career touchdown, which was the game-winner in overtime.
While no one could have imagine this good of a start for the fifth-round pick out of BYU, it is now easy to see why the Rams were so high on him coming out of college. In fact, Stafford actually said after the win over the Colts that Nacua reminds him of Kupp, via Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated
“Yeah, I think [they’re both] just big, physical, friendly targets for the quarterback,” Stafford says. “He does a great job after the catch, similar to what Cooper does. Both of those guys are just really physical players at the receiver position. For every catch and run he’s got, there’s three or four blocks on tape where he’s wiping a nickel off the screen, and our guys are running off of that. It’s a total package player and it’s fun to be working with him.”
That is some high praise from Stafford, who combined with Kupp for a record-breaking 2021 season and Super Bowl run.
The Rams have had one of the best offenses in the league so far this season, and that’s without Kupp, who has been on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
L.A. has opened up the 21-day practice window for Kupp to return though and he could be back as soon as this weekend when the Rams host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles at SoFi Stadium.
It’s hard to imagine that Nacua will keep up this level of production once Kupp returns, but having that duo, along with deep threats like Tutu Atwell and Van Jefferson, should only make the Rams’ offense that much better.
While it may take a bit of an adjustment period for Stafford and Nacua when Kupp is able to return, the Rams should boast one of the better passing games in the league along with a thriving run game led by Kyren Williams. As long as the offensive line can keep Stafford upright, there are exciting days ahead for the Rams.