Puka Nacua

Latest On Rams’ Receiving Corps

OCTOBER 6: Unsurprisingly, given his practice participation so far this week, Kupp is poised to take the field in Week 5. Dianna Russini of the Athletic reports Kupp is expected to play on Sunday in the absence of any setbacks taking place in the next two days. The All-Pro is currently on a snap count at practice, though, as the team remains cautious with the return process. Presuming his workload sees an incremental increase in the immediate future, Kupp will be in line to make his 2023 debut.

OCTOBER 5: Cooper Kupp took a major step towards his return to the field. Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Rams star wideout was upgraded to a full participant at practice today.

While it’s still uncertain if Kupp will see the field for Week 5, it’s undoubtedly a good sign that he put in a full day’s work on Thursday. The receiver was designated for return by the Rams yesterday, and he was later listed as a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice. The Rams technically have 21 days to activate Kupp from injured reserve, but his participation at practice points to him being activated way before that October 25 deadline.

Kupp has been dealing with hamstring injuries that forced him off the field for most of training camp, and his subsequent placement on injured reserve meant he’d be sidelined until at least Week 5. While the Rams will surely lean on Kupp to determine when he’s fully ready for game action, coach Sean McVay indicated that the timing of Kupp’s activation would be a collective decision.

Fortunately for the Rams, the offense hasn’t missed a beat without their All-Pro receiver. Rookie fifth-round pick Puka Nacua has been a revelation, with the wideout setting a number of records through his first four games in the NFL. Yahoo’s Jori Epstein explored how the BYU product ultimately landed in Los Angeles as the 20th wide receiver off the board.

As the writer notes, Nacua’s issues with missed games likely contributed to his late-round grade, and he also had an underwhelming 40-yard-dash performance during his pro day. Fortunately for the prospect, the Rams have never been all that interested in those pro-day performances, and the team was still intrigued with Nacua’s ability to make tough catches and his willingness to block both defensive ends and defensive backs.

The Rams seem to have hit on their late-round pick. Nacua has hauled in 31 catches through four weeks, an NFL record. When Kupp comes back, Matthew Stafford will have a number of worthy targets to throw to.

Injury Notes: Clark, Dulcich, Eagles

Frank Clark will be sidelined for a few weeks. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos defensive end will miss “a couple weeks” after suffering a hip injury during yesterday’s practice.

Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like this is a long-term issue, and there’s been no indication that Clark will land on injured reserve. Per Rapoport, the veteran is considered week-to-week.

The former Pro Bowler was cut by the Broncos back in March before eventually landing in Denver. As Troy Renck of Denver7 notes, Clark has struggled to establish a role in Denver, with the 30-year-old serving as a situational pass rusher during the season opener. Clark finished that contest with a pair of tackles while appearing in 25 defensive snaps.

This comes with Baron Browning sitting on PUP, so Clark’s role could be made even more uncertain when his teammate returns. A few weeks off the field probably won’t help his case for a significant role in Denver.

2022 ended Clark’s three-year stretch of earning Pro Bowl nods, but he was still productive with the Chiefs. In 15 games, the pass rusher compiled 39 tackles and five sacks. He showed up during Kansas City’s run to a Super Bowl championship, collecting another seven tackles and 2.5 sacks in three games.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Greg Dulcich is once again dealing with a hamstring injury. After missing seven games for the Broncos during the 2022 season, the tight end will once again miss multiple weeks while dealing with a hamstring injury in the same leg, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The organization intends to take it slow with Dulcich, meaning it could be a bit before he returns to the field. The 2022 third-round pick finished his rookie campaign with 33 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
  • A trio of Eagles players were ruled out early for Thursday Night Football. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported yesterday that running back Kenneth Gainwell (ribs), cornerback James Bradberry (concussion), and safety Reed Blankenship (ribs) would all be sidelined for Philly’s Week 2 matchup against the Vikings. The Eagles did get some good news, however, with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox being declared active for tonight’s game after being listed as questionable with a rib injury.
  • Rams wideout Puka Nacua didn’t practice today thanks to an oblique injury, according to Schefter. The rookie fifth-round pick was a standout during his NFL debut, garnering 15 targets from Matthew Stafford. Nacua ultimately finished the contest with 10 catches for 119 yards. With Cooper Kupp sidelined, the Rams may need to dig into their wide receiver depth against the 49ers.
  • Patriots cornerback Jack Jones landed on injured reserve before the season opener, keeping him off the field for at least the first month of the season. Per Albert Breer of TheMMQB, the 2022 fourth-round pick has an injury split in his contract, meaning the organization can lower Jones’ base salary from $870K to $475K as long as he sits on IR. That ends up being a loss of $22K per week for Jones.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 6/20/23

Today’s late-round draft pick signings:

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are slowly chipping away at their draft pick signings, agreeing to terms with two of their four fifth-round picks today. Allen saw a jump in receptions during each of his four seasons at Clemson, culminating in a 2022 campaign where he hauled in 39 catches (for 443 yards and five touchdowns). The rookie will compete for backup reps behind starting tight end Tyler Higbee.

Nacua spent two seasons at Washington before breaking out at BYU over the past two years. Across those two campaigns, the wideout collected 1,787 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns in 21 games. He’ll serve as a back-of-the-depth-chart option during his rookie campaign.