Rams WR Puka Nacua on his first NFL offseason, training with Cooper Kupp and eating right

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — In second-year Rams receiver Puka Nacua’s initial week of offseason training with veteran teammate Cooper Kupp, he threw up.

A lot. Anywhere he could see grass.

“His conditioning days were some of the tougher ones,” said a sheepishly grinning Nacua on Monday as the Rams opened their first phase of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“That first week I came back, I think threw up every day of the week. He wasn’t a fan of that, because it was on his lawn! ‘You’re throwing up in my bushes, Puka — thanks.’ But it was super fun.”

Nacua is still adjusting to life in the NFL — not just because he became a household name as a fifth-round surprise who set the new rookie receiving record in 2023 with 105 catches and 1,486 yards. His sudden burst into stardom has been accompanied by court-side seats at Los Angeles Lakers games, playing in the NBA Celebrity All-Star game, and shoutouts from top athletes and celebrities on social media.

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Puka Nacua played in the Celebrity All-Star game in February in Indianapolis. (Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today)

It also means that Nacua, whose physical play-style led to a number of different injuries to his ribs, arms and shoulders, and knees (he didn’t miss any time) is now taking a more NFL-standard approach to the offseason. In doing so, Nacua says he is following Kupp’s lead.

Incoming rookies train for standard testing at all-star events such as the Senior Bowl or NFL scouting combine, not necessarily an actual NFL season. Now, Nacua will have a full offseason of football training designed with the intent of actually playing football.

“Coop was ready to get to it right before the Super Bowl,” Nacua said, “he was already starting his integration to get ready to work out. A lot of mobility stuff in (this) first part, and then just continuing to stay explosive. A lot of top-end speed that we are working on.”

Rest, diet and recovery are as important as his new conditioning. Nacua said he has leaned out a little – he now weighs 210 pounds, but he said he also has added some protective bulk around his shoulders and chest.

“I think Coop would definitely not advise me to eat McDonald’s as much as I did during the season, he wasn’t a fan of that,” said Nacua, laughing.

“The mentality from last year was ‘one day at a time.’ I just think that I could never really think about Sunday, until I was waking up on Sunday a 9 a.m. … I guess another step in the recovery phase, (when) I saw Coop, as much as we were working out hard in the offseason he was recovering just as hard. Taking nutrition into it, having people who do body work outside of the facility and finding ways to constantly recover. If I’m going to have a two-hour workout period, then the 22 other hours in the day how else can I recover? How else can I gain an advantage? Honestly, I’ve recovered just as hard as I’m working out. That was a mindset I didn’t have before.”

Required reading

(Top photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

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