May 24, 2024

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Puka Nacua #17 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on from the sideline prior to at Paycor Stadium on September 25, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

In 2023, Puka Nacua broke the record for receptions and receiving yards, raising the standard for rookie receivers forever. Nevertheless, the elite wide receiver keeps striving for excellence in his own receiving room.

The bar is always high when your teammate is a three-time champion like Cooper Kupp, as Nacua pointed out on Monday.

According to Nacua, “I feel like I’m still trying to reach Coop’s expectations,” the team’s official website remarked. “Because he established the bar for many wide receivers in the NFL as well as for us in the wide receiver room. To be the triple crown victor, that is. I don’t know how wide receivers have ever won a Super Bowl MVP award, but I brought it up to him not too long ago.

“The standard is still set very high, and I don’t think I’m close to reaching it.”

Nacua, a fifth-round selection, shocked the NFL by gaining 100 yards or more in three of his first four games as a rookie. He had seven tilts of 100 yards or more overall, with three of those being over 150 yards. On his way to a Pro Bowl, the wide receiver gained 1,486 yards from 105 receptions and six touchdowns.

Nacua broke the record for the most points scored by a rookie in a postseason game when he caught nine passes for 181 yards and a touchdown against Detroit, in addition to his records from the regular season.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Nacua spent the offseason training with Kupp, learning how professionals attack the offseason. Nacua said the veteran wideout has taught him about nutrition, the importance of rest, and, of course, how to condition like a pro.

“His conditioning days were some of the tougher ones,” Nacua said. “I remember the first week I came back, I think I threw up every day of the week. He wasn’t a fan of that, because it was on his lawn and stuff. He was like, ‘you’re throwing up in my bushes Puka, thanks.’ But it was super fun, and then to come back in today, it felt like I didn’t miss a beat. There was kind of an idea of, ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’m going to do for the offseason.’ But following Coop’s plan made it super easy and centered me in the right way.”

Nacua put up a ridiculous rookie season, but there remains room to grow. Working alongside Kupp for a full offseason is a great sign that that development will continue on its upward trajectory.

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