Matthew Stafford, Puka Nacua ‘spent a bunch of time’ building chemistry all offseason

Matthew Stafford showed a surprising amount of trust in rookie Puka Nacua on Sunday against the Seahawks, targeting him 15 times – the most ever in a rookie receiver’s NFL debut. Nacua had two drops, but Stafford kept going back to him and they connected 10 times for 119 yards and a near-touchdown on Nacua’s second catch.

Nacua was a standout player in training camp and caught a touchdown pass from Stetson Bennett in the preseason, earning high praise from teammates and coaches throughout the summer. But his connection with Stafford didn’t start in training camp. They built chemistry in OTAs and worked consistently during the downtime before camp began.

“It didn’t really start in training camp. It started the second he got drafted here and was in OTAs,” Stafford said Wednesday. “I spent a bunch of time in OTAs working with him. Spent time in between OTAs and training camp throwing to him. Spent a bunch of time during training camp, just reps. And his understanding of the game comes really natural to him. Tutu (Atwell), Van (Jefferson), all those guys really do a nice job. The game comes really natural to them, so kind of let those guys go out there and play. You give those guys coaching points either in training camp or during the week, whatever it is, and those guys soak it up and really go out there and try to perfect their craft and go out there and play and have fun.”

Nacua and Atwell were two of the best receivers in the NFL in Week 1, each racking up 119 yards receiving. With Cooper Kupp out, the Rams needed someone to step up and fill the void, and they got two guys who did exactly that.

It’ll be interesting to see how many opportunities Nacua gets on Sunday when the Rams host the 49ers because it could be tough to sustain 15 targets per game, but there’s no question Stafford trusts the fifth-round rookie a great deal.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire