American Football

Rams Stock up, stock down: Puka Nacua continues to rise in LA


NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Puka Nacua’s stock continues his rise with the Rams after catching game-winning touchdown

Following back-to-back losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, the Los Angeles Rams got back on track with a win against the Indianapolis Colts. Despite leading 23-0, they didn’t make it easy and needed overtime to do so. Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua continued his rise in Los Angeles as he hauled in the game-winning touchdown. Here is this week’s stock up, stock down.

Stock Up: WR Puka Nacua

Nacua finally scored his first touchdown in a Rams uniform and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The rookie wide receiver scored in walk-off fashion in overtime to clinch the 29-23 win over the Colts. He finished with nine receptions for 163 yards and one touchdown. It’s hard to imagine where the Rams offense would be over the last four games without the fifth-round pick.

I’m going to get deeper into it later this week, but you have to wonder if Nacua can keep this up when Cooper Kupp returns to the field. As it stands, he’s outpacing Kupp’s triple crown season in receptions and yards. He has more yards and receptions than any rookie wide receiver in the first five games of their career. Nacua has only played four games. It’s going to be difficult for Nacua to keep this pace, but he’ll undoubtedly remain a large part of the offense.

Stock Down: K Brett Maher

The Rams likely wouldn’t have needed a walk-off touchdown from Nacua in overtime had Brett Maher made just one of his two misses from inside of 50-yards. Maher missed from 46 and 48 indoors. That can’t happen. It didn’t cost the Rams last week, but it might in the future.

It seems like the Rams still have confidence in Maher, and they absolutely should. It’s not as if there is a line of Pro Bowl caliber kickers waiting to be signed. At the same time, Maher’s seat should be warm and Les Snead should be doing his due diligence.

Stock Up: OL Kevin Dotson

Making his debut for the Rams on Sunday was right guard Kevin Dotson. The Rams traded for Dotson right before the season and he had been inactive for the first three weeks. With Alaric Jackson dealing with a hamstring injury, the Rams needed Dotson at right guard as they moved Joe Noteboom to left tackle.

Dotson was really good in his first performance. He only allowed one pressure and receiving a grade of 89.3 in run-blocking from Pro Football Focus. Dotson was the he third-highest graded guard in run-blocking for the week. The question becomes, do the Rams stick with Dotson at right guard or move Noteboom back to that spot when Jackson returns to the lineup?

Stock Down: CB Cobie Durant

We may need to have a conversation about Cobie Durant at some point in the near future. Whether he is struggling in the star role or having a sophomore slump, his season hasn’t been very good to start.

That continued on Sunday as Durant allowed three receptions while being targeted four times. Most of his snaps in coverage have come from the slot. However, he’s an inside-outside player and may need to be played in both spots. The Rams secondary has been fine this season, but they need more from their second year player.

Stock Up: Sean McVay and Rams Run Game

McVay heard his critics all week when it came to the run game and not running the ball. On Sunday, Rams running backs had 34 carries and their rushing success-rate of 48.6 percent ranked sixth for the week.

The Rams need to be able to remain balanced in the offense. Kyren Williams gives the Rams some overall consistency as a runner while Ronnie Rivers provides a nice change of pace. The offense works best and the offensive line performs at its best when they are able to remain balanced and keep the defense on its toes.

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