A Cooper Kupp Return Boosts Rams, But Will Puka Nacua’s Meteoric Rise Continue?

The impending return of 2021's NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Cooper Kupp, and the meteoric rise of rookie sensation, Puka Nacua.

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos
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It’s a storyline that has been brewing since preseason: the impending return of 2021’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Cooper Kupp, and the meteoric rise of rookie sensation, Puka Nacua.

After four weeks on the sidelines, the Rams’ proverbial “Kupp” is set to overflow with talent as Cooper Kupp is slated to return to practice. The standout wide receiver had been placed on short-term injured reserve following a hamstring setback, but the buzz around Rams fans is palpable as the day of his return nears.

While Kupp’s absence could have meant a slump for the Rams’ offense, it was the rookie Nacua who stole the show. Many expected Van Jefferson to fill the void, but the 5th rounder from BYU has made his mark. Making highlight reel catches and breaking records, Puka’s star has been rising faster than anyone could have anticipated. Last week, Nacua continued to dazzle, hauling in the game-winning pass from Matthew Stafford in an electrifying 29-23 overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colts.

The questions on every Rams fan’s mind are: How will Kupp’s return impact Nacua’s production? And can the Rams harness the firepower of both these talented wide receivers?

Head coach Sean McVay seems optimistic. When asked about the possible shift in dynamics, McVay responded, “I think [Nacua] is going to continue to play at a high level. I don’t see any indications of that changing. When you’re able to add another great player into the mix, it’s only going to help.”

Kupp, playing the slot receiver spot, and Nacua, who lines up at ‘Z’ and plays the slot, offer Stafford different options on the field. With both receivers possessing unique strengths, defensive coordinators will have their work cut out in game-planning against this dynamic duo.

While many analysts suggest that Puka’s production might dip with Kupp’s return, McVay’s offensive strategies have often thrived with multiple productive receivers in the past. The symbiotic relationship between Kupp and Nacua could very well propel the Rams’ offense to greater heights. With Tutu Atwell seemingly having a great year as well, we could see a resurgence of the Rams receiving trio harkening back to the days of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp in the early McVay era.

The offensive rookie of the year race is heating up, with Nacua, Anthony Richardson, and the likes of CJ Stroud emerging as early favorites.

For now, all eyes are on Cooper Kupp’s imminent return and how this impacts the Rams’ game plan against the Eagles. One thing is certain: with Kupp and Nacua on the field together, fireworks are guaranteed.