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By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

The play of Nacua is helping to keep the Rams in the playoff picture

 

December 7, 2023

George Laase

Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua leads the Rams with 77 receptions for 1,029 yards.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Los Angeles Rams, but they have surprised a lot of people with a hard fought 6-6 record. That record is keeping them in the playoff picture. On Sunday they take on a very good Baltimore Raven team on the road at 10 a.m.

One of the reasons the Rams are surprising some people is the play of rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua. The 6'2, 200-pound player has taken the NFL by storm and is electrifying Rams fans all over the world. In the history of the Rams there has never been a rookie that has hit the ground running like Nacua.

The 2023 fifth round draft pick is setting records every time he steps on the field. In his first NFL game against Seattle, he caught 10 passes for 119 yards. His second game against San Francisco he caught 15 passes for 147 yards. Setting records is not new to Nacua. As a high school player in Utah, he set state career records by catching 260 passes for 5,226 yards and 58 touchdowns. In college at Washington and BYU injuries and the pandemic kept him from reaching his full potential but the Rams saw something that other NFL teams missed.

"His athleticism and just his body control is special," said Rams head coach Sean McVay this week at the Rams training camp in Thousand Oaks. "He's got weird leverage. He can kind of just torque his body 360 degrees to elevate and then be able to twist and get himself inbounds. He has great body control and he such a tough guy."

Nacua, who is Samoan, Hawaiian and Portuguese is trying to adjust to life as an NFL superstar. "It's kind of surreal," said Nacua at the Rams camp last week. "It hits me sometimes when I walk into Whole Foods and someone will say, 'You are that guy I see playing football on Sunday.' So, it is definitely cool and the times I get to see little kids is special, and to think that I was that little kid not too long ago."

Nacua says that his family keeps him grounded because his brothers are super competitive. "They always tell me that I better stay on my Ps and Qs. They put me in check real quick. They are very supportive, and it's been fun to have them along with me on my journey."

Nacua said he knew that hard work would pay off one day. "I knew the opportunity would come for me to showcase my skills and I landed into a great environment that has allowed me show everyone what I am capable of."

Nacua thinks that being drafted by the Rams was a blessing. "I have always felt great about this team. I was lucky to be here and to be around the people on this team and the leaders that we have. The leaders are extremely helpful to the young guys on the team. Having come from college my season would be over. So, to see the leaders pushing forward everyday is exciting for me. That keeps me going."

 

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