Can LA Rams OC Liam Coen revitalize WR Tutu Atwell

Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Tutu Atwell
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Task I: Keeping him healthy

The two best abilities on any NFL team are availability and dependability. Neither happened for Tutu Atwell, his given name is Chatarius Atwell, in his rookie season.  Although the team did attempt several avenues to do so for the young speedster. Atwell is a smallish receiver with blazingly fast speed. Although his profile indicates that he is 5-foot-9 and 165-pounds, other reports had him as light as 149-pounds.

The problem is that the NFL involves players who can approach sizes of 6-foot-8 and weights of well over 300-pounds. It’s a sport of brutal physicality, and whether Atwell is 165-pounds, 149-pounds, or 180-pounds, he is at a distinct disadvantage of weight and height to virtually any defender he faces.

So the Rams cannot plan to dive him into the line of scrimmage, nor to use him in any high-traffic type of play like screen passes. The trick to getting the most out of Atwell is to keep him out of high traffic plays and let his speed do the rest. The NFL has seen players like that before, and many have carved out enviable NFL careers by filling in a niche role.

The NFL has a place for healthy niche players

Running back Darren Sproles, who stood 5-foot-6 and weighed 190-pounds made a niche playing for the San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints, and the Philadelphia Eagles, by finding and filling a hybrid RB/WR niche that allowed him to make use of his speed both on the ground and through the air. He runs a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.

WR Cole Beasley is 5-foot-8 and weighs 174-pounds. He has made a successful NFL career out of embracing the team’s secondary or tertiary target in the passing game. He also runs a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.

RB Dave Meggett was a 5-foot-7 190-pound running back for the New York Giants and New England Patriots. He too found a niche as another RB/WR that allowed him to make use of his speed in ways that would not bury him in the line of scrimmage. He was much slower than expected, running a 4.64-second 40-yard dash.

All three players had or are having successful NFL careers because they stay healthy. That is the top priority for Tutu Atwell in 2022, and will likely involve bulking up with more muscle mass.