By CJ Carlson
Puka Nacua has been a phenomenal story this season for the Los Angeles Rams. The rookie receiver, taken in the fifth-round of the draft, immediately turned out to be a difference maker on a young roster. If it wasn’t for him, this group might not have locked themselves into the playoffs with a week to spare. But during the regular season finale, on a night where most of the starters were resting, Nacua was out there to start the game, just so he could break a few records.
This Sunday, we watched Nacua break Bill Groman’s rookie receiving yard record of 1,473, a record that was set all the way back in 1960. Justin Jefferson managed 1,400 yards in his rookie campaign, and Ja’Marr Chase put up 1,455 in his, just to put Nacua’s record-breaking year into perspective. This week, he went out and broke the rookie receptions record that was previously held by Jaylen Waddle of the Miami Dolphins. He’s also the third rookie in league history to catch at least 100 passes. The only other name besides Waddle in that category is Anquan Boldin.
Nacua snagged four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown before getting pulled for the remainder of the game to preserve his health. Cameras caught head coach Sean McVay excited for Nacua’s record-breaking catches before saying that he needs to get out of the game, so nothing happens to him. After the game, McVay said, “Really happy for Puka Nacua. God, was that frustrating to try to figure that out.
After the first drive, I thought we would be able to do that, and I thought our guys just did a great job. For him to be able to break both of those records, is such a credit to this team but also his consistency and his body of work over a 17-game season. I’m really happy for him.”
Puka Nacua Helped Keep This Team Competitive
The Rams entered the season with minimal expectations due to roster turnover and an overall lackluster looking team on paper. However, there are a multitude of young guns on this team that have kept the Super Bowl winning culture from a few years ago. Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and McVay have inspired everybody around them, and here they are with a 10-7 season and a playoff berth.
Nacua wasn’t even thought to be an impact player when the year began. He got into action early due to a Cooper Kupp injury and the chemistry between him and Matthew Stafford was shown off straight away. When Kupp finally returned, you just couldn’t make an argument that Nacua should get less playing time.
I’m really happy for Nacua and the entire Rams organization. This group just did such an amazing job throughout the year in order to get to this point. Not many teams would be able to take a roster like this in the offseason and finish with the six seed out in a tough conference.