Tutu Atwell didn’t contribute in the way he or the Rams hoped he would as a rookie last year. The second-round pick played just 10 offensive snaps and never recorded a touch, only working on special teams.
He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after just eight games, sidelining him for the second half of the year. But now that he’s healthy, Atwell is looking to carve out a bigger role within the offense.
Rams wide receivers coach Eric Yarber echoed what Sean McVay said recently, coming away impressed with the progress Atwell has made in Year 2. He told Kevin Modesti of the OC Register that “it’s night and day” with Atwell’s development compared to his rookie year.
“He’s progressing very, very well mentally and physically. The game has slowed down for him. He knows his plays like the back of his hand,” Yarber said. “It’s almost like he took things for granted (last year). But now, he saw how Cooper and Robert Woods prepared and how it translated to on-the-field (success). I was going to suggest he do that anyway, but he did it before I even suggested it. That says a lot about how he’s serious about this and he wants to be a good pro.”
The Rams’ receiver group didn’t make it easy for Atwell to earn reps last year, playing behind Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson. However, there may have been things Atwell could have done to improve his chances, too.
Yarber spoke about pressing Atwell on the importance of preparation, which has helped him get ready for the 2022 season.
“Last year, he thought he knew but he really didn’t,” Yarber said. “So you’ve got to press on him: ‘Hey, this is how you prepare. You’ve got to prepare like a pro. This is your livelihood. This is not you going to class and then going out there and using your athletic ability.’”
The Rams still have Kupp and Jefferson at wide receiver, and they also added Allen Robinson, so Atwell once again has an uphill climb to playing time. But Yarber expects him to contribute in the passing game and on special teams, and there’s also the possibility of running jet sweeps to get the ball in his hands.
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