It's make or break for LA Rams WR Tutu Atwell in his contract year

As LA Rams WR Tutu Atwell has improved, his chances of succeeding on this roster have decreased. How can that be, and can Atwell impress enough in 2024 to warrant a contract extension? Let's discuss
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Tre Tomlinson, Tutu Atwell
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Tre Tomlinson, Tutu Atwell / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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Rams coaches seek something altogether different from their WRs

For the Rams coaching staff, the key to wide receiver success is spelled out in intricate detail by Head Coach Sean McVay, criteria that he expressed when the Rams' upcoming selection of Puka Nacua seemed more and more likely:

" "I think this guy would be really good for us Les. I want a guy that is going to be where he is supposed to be, that will stay grounded through the catch, aggressive hands that will dig out, support in the run game, and can be an extension of the run game. This guy can be a functional piece of an offensive operation." "

Rams HC Sean McVay

Nacua's strengths are not his speed but rather his physicality and toughness. They are the qualities that propelled him to earn offensive snaps, and ultimately a starting role early in the 2023 NFL season when veteran WR Cooper Kupp was recovering from injuries.

The more I examine Puka Nacua's rookie season, the more I realize that the LA Rams coaching staff are onto something. After all, Nacua did not hold the presumption of being anointed as a starter in this offense when he was selected on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft. His role was earned through hard work, effort, and standing out throughout OTAs and training camp. When the team needed a receiver to step up after Kupp's injury, the team had plenty of options: WRs Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Demarcus Robinson, and Tyler Johnson.

Veteran WR Tutu Atwell even had opportunities, getting the lion's share of offensive snaps through Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season. So why didn't his career experience an uptick like that of Nacua in 2023?