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‘Stud’ rookie Puka Nacua sets record with 15-catch performance in Rams’ loss to 49ers

ByGuillermo Garcia

Sep 18, 2023
'Stud' rookie Puka Nacua sets record with 15-catch performance in Rams' loss to 49ers

Nacua spent the first two weeks of his rookie season breaking records.

His 15 catches Sunday were the most in a game by a rookie. His 25 total catches are the most by a rookie through two games in NFL history and the most by any rookie in any two-game span (Odell Beckham Jr. had 23 over two December games in 2014).

Nacua became the fifth player — and first rookie — in the Super Bowl era with 10-plus receptions and 100-plus receiving yards in each of his team’s first two games in a season — Cooper Kupp (2022), Miles Austin (2010), Isaac Bruce (1998) and Andre Rison (1994).

The rookie, however, wished he’d been setting records in a victory, not a close defeat.

“I’m not really aware of kind of what’s going on,” Nacua said. “But my success will come when the team wins, so I’m excited for us to be able to come back and capitalize when we are able to win. So it was sweet last week. I got things to improve on, so it’s cool and all, but the most important thing is getting that W.”

Stafford isn’t afraid to force-feed receivers he trusts to make plays — we’ve seen it throughout his career with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Kupp, etc. The surprising aspect is that the veteran QB has quickly gained a rapport with a fifth-round rookie. But as long as Nacua keeps paying off that trust, Stafford is sure to keep slinging it his way.

The question will be how the targets shake out when Kupp returns from injury. They’re likely to diminish somewhat, but Puka has proven he has lasting potential in McVay’s offense.