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How did Rams rookies fare in Week 1 against Seahawks?

Puka Nacua filled in nicely for Cooper Kupp in impressive debut

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams soundly defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-13 in the season opener. LA not only got revenge on Seattle who swept them in 2022 but did so with a few notable players from their rookie class.

It was a blast seeing some of those first-year players taking the field and showing out in their first real NFL action. It was a fun game all around Turf Show Ramily. So same time next week? Well until then, here is a progress check on some notable first-year players after Week 1.

Puka Nacua

No Cooper Kupp, no problem whatsoever with Puka Nacua leading the charge. Nacua had himself quite the NFL debut in Seattle. The rookie tied Tutu Atwell for the most receiving yards on the team with 119. He even led LA with 10 receptions.

The chemistry between the BYU product and Matthew Stafford was evident from the get-go. In the first half alone, the rookie was targeted nine times, catching five of them for 71 yards.

One of the most impressive aspects of Nacua’s regular season debut was how well he came back to the ball time and time again. Take this play in the first half. Nacua adjusted to the ball and had to get low to haul in Stafford’s pass.

All offseason, Nacua was repeatedly praised by his coaching staff. The fanbase heard the hype all throughout training camp and we were left to wonder how much of it was true. Nacua made one appearance in the preseason opener against the Chargers in which he caught three passes for 32 yards. It was a promising showing but would it translate to the regular season?

Puka answered the question Sunday with a resounding yes. For now, LA seems to be much better equipped to handle Kupp’s absence compared to where they were a year ago. Nacua might become the reason I convert into an optimist one day. I doubt that day will ever come but the kid is giving me faith that this Rams team might make something of themselves this season.

Steve Avila

In last year’s season opener at home against the Bills, LA’s offensive line gave up seven sacks. Poor offensive line play became a theme for the Rams the rest of the season and plagued Stafford and the other signal callers that would eventually fill in for him later in the year.

Fast forward to Week 1 and Stafford wasn’t sacked or touched really by Seattle’s line. The veteran QB actually had enough time to throw from the pocket. Steve Avila was a mauler on the line, proving he was indeed worthy of being LA’s first pick in this year’s draft.

A really great example of the physically that Avila brings to this Rams line came on Stafford’s nine-yard scramble. Watch #73 near the middle of the hash marks. If you watch closely, you can see the rookie absolutely level a pass rusher to the ground which cleared a blocking lane for the legendary dual-threat quarterback.

It’s a damn shame he couldn’t have done the same to DK Metcalf.

Anyways, the Rams might have drastically improved their O-line. Next week against the 49ers will serve as a test for Avila and company to see how much they’ve truly improved over the offseason. San Francisco brought down Stafford nine times through two games in ‘22.

Pass Rushers

You get a sack and you get a sack!

Byron Young and Kobie Turner were in on key sacks which helped the Rams put away Seattle in the second half. Young flashed his speed and beat Seattle’s right tackle, leading to a Geno Smith throwaway.

LA would kick a field goal on their ensuing drive to go up by two touchdowns. On the Seahawks’ next drive, Turner notched his first sack which essentially killed any hopes of a comeback for their division rival.

Other Notes:

  • Tre Tomlinson was left on the bench in favor of second-year corner Derion Kendrick. Kendrick was put in a blender on Metcalf’s touchdown reception and had a pass interference call later in the game. I speak for the entire fanbase when I say that Tomlinson deserves a chance. He clearly has a higher upside to Kendrick and won’t learn anything while sitting on the bench. Putting him in the starting rotation against the Niners isn’t exactly the best idea given recent history but again, LA won’t officially know what they have in Tomlinson unless they give him opportunities.
  • Based on the efficiency of the Rams on offense, Ethan Evans only punted one time which went for 45 yards. Evans is the lone bright spot on special teams and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.