Rams rookies given early opportunities to succeed
With all of the talent and athleticism in the universe, no NFL rookie can convert potential into production until they are given an opportunity to succeed or fail on the football field. The LA Rams, having run the course of sprinting to an NFL Championship, was unable to doll out the number and frequency of snaps to rookies in the recent past.
That is why, when the LA Rams roster pivoted from a top-heavy design that depended heavily on elite playmakers to a Rams roster that invested heavily in rookie and second-year players, I was a bit more excited than in other years. Rather than set lofty expectations that would soon fail to be met after the first loss of the season, I was eager to take the journey with the young Rams players this year. And I did that knowing that this team would need to make plenty of course corrections from game to game.
The excitement began in training camp, as we began to see and hear positive reports about WR Puka Nacua, OLB Byron Young, and even QB Stetson Bennett. It was a great time for Rams fans, who had the opportunity to see fresh and enthusiastic faces compete and learn football the LA Rams way.
The best part of the young Rams roster is that due to the fact that so many starting roster spots needed to be refilled, there were plenty of opportunities to be handed out. Rookie IOL Steve Avila was pencilled in as an immediate starting left guard for the offensive line. Rookie OLB Byron Young was also presumed to be a starting edge rusher for the Rams. Even rookie punter Ethan Evans was awarded the starting punting role, as well as kickoff duties.
But the Rams truly earned oohs and ahhs by starting rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua right out of the gates. Nacua was not perfect by any means, but his appearance in Week 1 allowed him to fill in for the absent All-Pro WR Cooper Kupp, and he did not miss a beat in doing so.