How well will LA Rams WR Tutu Atwell play this week?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Is there any player in recent LA Rams history who has been more polarizing, misunderstood, or downright unfairly criticized than second-year wide receiver Tutu Atwell? From the moment of his selection with the 57th over pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Atwell has gotten the cold shoulder from the LA Rams fan base. It was never something he did or didn’t do. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The LA Rams wanted the team to address their interior offensive line, and many mock drafts had created a fever pitch for the Rams to select offensive center Creed Humphrey in that draft. He was there on the draft board in the second round, and many draft profiles labeled him a sure thing. He was eventually chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs and has lived up to even the most optimistic expectations.

As for Tutu Atwell?  He was never targeted as a receiver his entire rookie season, even when the Rams’ wide receiver room was hit hard by injuries. Atwell was injured while competing on the Rams’ special team.

LA Rams roster, Tutu and 2022

The LA Rams coaching staff did Tutu Atwell no favors throughout training camp either. Touting how well he had improved only served to elevate an unhappy fanbase’s expectations once more. But when the season arrived, Tutu Atwell was targeted just twice in the month of September 2022.

By the end of November 2022, he had stumbled into the same role that veteran WR DeSean Jackson has served the previous season. Atwell had caught four of seven passes thrown his way for 139 yards and 1 touchdown. His yards per reception was a phenomenal 32.25 YPC, but with only seven targets, the fans concluded that he was a one-trick pony. Sure, he could stretch the field, but the coaches had sat him as a healthy scratch all too often.

But then December 2022, with it came new QB Baker Mayfield. He arrived at an offense with no preconceptions and no bias, just a kid-in-a-candy-store fascination with all of the Rame talented receivers who had not been able to attract much attention to this point in time. On Thursday Night Football, Atwell was targeted nine times, which was more passes thrown his way than his entire 1.5-year career through November 2022.

Has he peaked? Or is this just the cusp of a new chapter in his NFL career? That’s part of the thrill to me in the upcoming Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers. Of course, I want the Rams to win. But rather than that be my lone mile marker for entertainment, I’m equally intrigued to witness how new QB Baker Mayfield handles the offense, and how the Rams make use of so many young and talented receivers.

I think many LA Rams are forming a new opinion of the Rams’ young receiver. In the end, all he needed was an opportunity.

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