Tutu Atwell {updated} only ball carrier in NFL to hit 21 mph twice

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CGI_Ram

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Rams’ Tutu Atwell aims to come up big in his second season

THOUSAND OAKS — Tutu Atwell rededicated his mind and body to football this offseason after the Rams’ top draft pick in 2021 had a disappointing, injury-shortened rookie year.

Part of Atwell’s program, prescribed by team trainers to strengthen his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame, involves drinking milkshakes, lots of milkshakes.

“Strawberry-banana, always,” he said when asked his flavor. “Just strawberry-banana, nothin’ else.”

Blending in some hard work and self-sacrifice, Atwell might have the ingredients for a second-season surprise.

The one-time ACC-leading wide receiver from Louisville was a surprise second-round pick by Rams general manager Les Snead and Coach Sean McVay. They saw his 4.41-second 40-yard speed as a weapon for the receiving corps and the punt and kick return teams. Others saw bigger needs, or at least bigger pass-catchers.

The doubters got the first laugh. Atwell was set back in training camp by COVID-19 and a back injury. He played only 10 offensive snaps, recording no receptions, and returned 15 punts and kickoffs, breaking no run longer than 25 yards, before shoulder surgery sent him to season-ending injured reserve in November.

Before the final injury, McVay called out Atwell for showing an insufficient “sense of urgency.”

Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber lectured him about work habits.

“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.’”

Atwell heard the criticism from inside and outside the Rams’ fold.

“Of course it pops into my phone,” Atwell said Thursday after the last practice session of the Rams’ organized team activities. “I’m the type of guy, I use it for motivation. I don’t let it get to me. People can say what they want to say.”

Now he’s ready to get the last laugh.

“At the end of the day, I’m here, I’m on the team. Coach McVay and Les chose me for a reason. They see what I can do,” Atwell said. “I’m going to prove everybody wrong.”

Coaches and teammates say the littlest Rams is making big strides.

“It’s night and day,” Yarber said. “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 one reason is Atwell has latched onto fellow receiver Cooper Kupp, trying to follow the example of the NFL’s 2021 Offensive Player of the Year on the practice field and in meeting rooms.

“It’s almost like he took things for granted (last year),” Yarber said of Atwell. “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.”

Kupp said Atwell has been beside him in the weight room since players began coming back after winning the Super Bowl in February.

“I think he’d be the first to tell you last season wasn’t what he wanted his rookie season to be,” Kupp said. “I think he’ll come out here and do some good things in year two and let it all hang out, and let his game kind of speak for itself. He’s a special player. He can do some pretty incredible things on the football field. I’m excited about seeing him out here and seeing those things come to life.

“He’s been working very hard, building himself up and studying the playbook, all the stuff he needs to do to make sure that when he steps on the field, he can just play the game.”

The question remains whether a player his size can survive in the NFL, let alone thrive. The fact his first season ended with an injury says no. But it’s worth remembering he’s only one of five Rams draft picks who went on IR last year.

Yarber notes that when Atwell gets hit, he tends to get knocked sideways, so tacklers don’t fall on him.

“He is a little guy,” Yarber said. “But his limbs are long, so he can play bigger than his 5-9, 5-10 stature. He can’t do anything about his size. What you want to do is get his body strong so he can play bigger than he really is.”

As the Rams go into minicamp next week and training camp in late July, Atwell has to work his way up on a depth chart headed by Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek at wide receiver and Brandon Powell on the return team.

Yarber said he expects Atwell to contribute to the passing game and special teams.

Atwell sees himself doing all that and running jet sweeps on offense.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy where I’m at,” Atwell said. “We’re a team. I want to see everybody win. Whether I’m first on the depth chart or last on the depth chart, I don’t care.

“My time will come. And when my time comes, I’m going to show everybody why I got picked in the second round.”
 

PARAM

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There are no subjects more polarizing (for a reigning Championship fanbase) than Tutu Atwell, the Edge position and resigning OBJ.
 

snackdaddy

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We all want Tutu to do well. It only helps our team if he does. But we can also be critical going back to last year's draft. McVay and Snead are really smart guys. But I have to wonder if they mighta outsmarted themselves on this one.

I know he doesn't have a history of injuries in college, but when the ball is the one that knocked you out for the season I have to wonder just how durable he really is.

If he can run some jet sweeps, WR screens and track down deep passes on occasion I will call it a win. But his opportunities might be more limited. Especially of OBJ returns. If he has problems with ball security early on he won't see the field much at all, if any.
 

PARAM

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I know he doesn't have a history of injuries in college, but when the ball is the one that knocked you out for the season I have to wonder just how durable he really is.
Yes, I agree. It's like running a pass pattern across the field and blowing out your knee without contact. Twice.
 

CanadaRam

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The biggest issue with evaluating Tutu is that many don't think he can put up with the hits needed to be a good WR in the NFL.
It is a legit question.
Can he take a hit like the one Scott put on Deebo and keep going?
If he can't and has to stay on the outside only as a deep threat, then certainly not worth the draft capital used on him.
In addition to this, Tutu has to make the jump from top college WR to being good in the NFL. Half can't do this, and Tutu has not shown this yet either.

Potential is there, but much to prove and year 1 was a miss.
 

MachS

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“My time will come. And when my time comes, I’m going to show everybody why I got picked in the second round.”
I'm rooting for the kid and I think he'll have a nice year. Why? Because Sean McVay has someone who runs 4.27, runs good routes and has good hands. I think he'll know how to get him touches. We all saw how DJax opened things up down the field for us. Van is pretty fast and can go deep but Tutu's speed is elite like DJax and he should be able to consistently get behind defenses, especially given our scheme. I predict a handful of long explosive TDs as a floor for his production.
 

PhillyRam

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Rams’ Tutu Atwell aims to come up big in his second season

THOUSAND OAKS — Tutu Atwell rededicated his mind and body to football this offseason after the Rams’ top draft pick in 2021 had a disappointing, injury-shortened rookie year.

Part of Atwell’s program, prescribed by team trainers to strengthen his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame, involves drinking milkshakes, lots of milkshakes.

“Strawberry-banana, always,” he said when asked his flavor. “Just strawberry-banana, nothin’ else.”

Blending in some hard work and self-sacrifice, Atwell might have the ingredients for a second-season surprise.

The one-time ACC-leading wide receiver from Louisville was a surprise second-round pick by Rams general manager Les Snead and Coach Sean McVay. They saw his 4.41-second 40-yard speed as a weapon for the receiving corps and the punt and kick return teams. Others saw bigger needs, or at least bigger pass-catchers.

The doubters got the first laugh. Atwell was set back in training camp by COVID-19 and a back injury. He played only 10 offensive snaps, recording no receptions, and returned 15 punts and kickoffs, breaking no run longer than 25 yards, before shoulder surgery sent him to season-ending injured reserve in November.

Before the final injury, McVay called out Atwell for showing an insufficient “sense of urgency.”

Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber lectured him about work habits.

“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.’”

Atwell heard the criticism from inside and outside the Rams’ fold.

“Of course it pops into my phone,” Atwell said Thursday after the last practice session of the Rams’ organized team activities. “I’m the type of guy, I use it for motivation. I don’t let it get to me. People can say what they want to say.”

Now he’s ready to get the last laugh.

“At the end of the day, I’m here, I’m on the team. Coach McVay and Les chose me for a reason. They see what I can do,” Atwell said. “I’m going to prove everybody wrong.”

Coaches and teammates say the littlest Rams is making big strides.

“It’s night and day,” Yarber said. “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 one reason is Atwell has latched onto fellow receiver Cooper Kupp, trying to follow the example of the NFL’s 2021 Offensive Player of the Year on the practice field and in meeting rooms.

“It’s almost like he took things for granted (last year),” Yarber said of Atwell. “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.”

Kupp said Atwell has been beside him in the weight room since players began coming back after winning the Super Bowl in February.

“I think he’d be the first to tell you last season wasn’t what he wanted his rookie season to be,” Kupp said. “I think he’ll come out here and do some good things in year two and let it all hang out, and let his game kind of speak for itself. He’s a special player. He can do some pretty incredible things on the football field. I’m excited about seeing him out here and seeing those things come to life.

“He’s been working very hard, building himself up and studying the playbook, all the stuff he needs to do to make sure that when he steps on the field, he can just play the game.”

The question remains whether a player his size can survive in the NFL, let alone thrive. The fact his first season ended with an injury says no. But it’s worth remembering he’s only one of five Rams draft picks who went on IR last year.

Yarber notes that when Atwell gets hit, he tends to get knocked sideways, so tacklers don’t fall on him.

“He is a little guy,” Yarber said. “But his limbs are long, so he can play bigger than his 5-9, 5-10 stature. He can’t do anything about his size. What you want to do is get his body strong so he can play bigger than he really is.”

As the Rams go into minicamp next week and training camp in late July, Atwell has to work his way up on a depth chart headed by Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek at wide receiver and Brandon Powell on the return team.

Yarber said he expects Atwell to contribute to the passing game and special teams.

Atwell sees himself doing all that and running jet sweeps on offense.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy where I’m at,” Atwell said. “We’re a team. I want to see everybody win. Whether I’m first on the depth chart or last on the depth chart, I don’t care.

“My time will come. And when my time comes, I’m going to show everybody why I got picked in the second round.”
Sounds like Tutu reads this forum
 

kurtfaulk

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Can't wait to see the little bloke in action in preseason.

But will there be a qb on the field that can hit him down the field? The two they have now have trouble 10 yards down the field.

.
 

BuffaloRam

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Can't wait to see the little bloke in action in preseason.

But will there be a qb on the field that can hit him down the field? The two they have now have trouble 10 yards down the field.

.
As long as those routes look sharp and he is getting separation - the wolf man can under throw him by five yards all pre-season. QB1 will connect in the regular season
 

BonifayRam

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IF...........Snead/McVay :eyeroll::lying:is correct & TuTu does turn out to be the WR that they paid highly for, then this overall receiver cadre consisting of {WR/SL/TE/RB} will be loaded diverse & ladened with outstanding talent.......there is absolutely no necessity for spending & going even further deep in debt & sign OBJ.
 

SeminoleRam

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IF...........Snead/McVay :eyeroll::lying:is correct & TuTu does turn out to be the WR that they paid highly for, then this overall receiver cadre consisting of {WR/SL/TE/RB} will be loaded diverse & ladened with outstanding talent.......there is absolutely no necessity for spending & going even further deep in debt & sign OBJ.

I know you are right but personally I would feel much better with OBJ on the team (Especially, Playoff Time!)!
 

BonifayRam

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I know you are right but personally I would feel much better with OBJ on the team (Especially, Playoff Time!)!
After the rough & mediocre performance of Van Jefferson had in the 2021 postseason.......I would hope he has the opportunity/chance to demonstrate that he is a receiver that can be counted on in times of great need. I like for him to secure that for himself here.

In the grand overview of the forward direction of this Ram team, Van Jefferson needs to earn it, grasp it & be the 2022 OBJ 2021 version ......that's the better overall scenario for him & this team.....

Snead/McVay have drafted & selected two 2nd round WR's in back to back drafts ........neither has turned out as billed.:thumbsdown::wow2::not: do we need to bring up that in 2021 Draft Snead / McVay drafted 3 WR's in just a single draft? Then they followed up early this year making their biggest UFA addition/signing a WR with the veteran Robinson.
 
Last edited:

Ram Ts

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IF...........Snead/McVay :eyeroll::lying:is correct & TuTu does turn out to be the WR that they paid highly for, then this overall receiver cadre consisting of {WR/SL/TE/RB} will be loaded diverse & ladened with outstanding talent.......there is absolutely no necessity for spending & going even further deep in debt & sign OBJ.
It’s a good point. At some time there’s comes a point when you have too many good players at one spot - paying for all them makes no sense in a salary cap league.

If they believe that Tutu can and will be a valuable/productive WR long term. And they feel the same about Van and some of the other young WRs. Then maybe they can be extra smart here and sign OBJ to a one year deal (with limited $ amounts obviously due to playing only half a year). Then let him leave via FA and get a comp pick. But not being saddled with a LT contract for him that’s risky injury wise. We get him for the playoffs next year and then the young guys take over that 3-5 WR spot 2023+.
 

Rams43

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IF...........Snead/McVay :eyeroll::lying:is correct & TuTu does turn out to be the WR that they paid highly for, then this overall receiver cadre consisting of {WR/SL/TE/RB} will be loaded diverse & ladened with outstanding talent.......there is absolutely no necessity for spending & going even further deep in debt & sign OBJ.


That is one very big ‘IF’, BonifayRam. Actually, it’s a huge one.

Hope I’m wrong but until he proves otherwise on the field I see Atwell as #5 WR, assuming OBJ is signed. As a #4-5 WR Atwell will be buried and seldom if ever get a chance to prove much.

The reason I still want to sign OBJ is because he proved his value to me during his half season and playoffs with Rams. He exceeded my expectations by a mile and with Stafford throwing to him he was virtually uncoverable.

Stafford would have 3 virtually uncoverable WR’s to choose from on every snap, and let’s don’t forget Higbee and Akers/Williams as targets, too.

What D can handle that for 60 minutes? They might collectively rewrite the record books, man.
 

RamDino

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And let's not forget about injuries. Cooper Kupp has only played 2 full seasons, I believe, and last year alone OBJ went down along with Woods, Tutu, and Jacob Harris, all with season-ending injuries. With this 17 game schedule, not to mention the Rams played 21 games last year, you have to have a lot of depth.
 

BonifayRam

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That is one very big ‘IF’, BonifayRam. Actually, it’s a huge one.

Hope I’m wrong but until he proves otherwise on the field I see Atwell as #5 WR, assuming OBJ is signed. As a #4-5 WR Atwell will be buried and seldom if ever get a chance to prove much.

The reason I still want to sign OBJ is because he proved his value to me during his half season and playoffs with Rams. He exceeded my expectations by a mile and with Stafford throwing to him he was virtually uncoverable.

Stafford would have 3 virtually uncoverable WR’s to choose from on every snap, and let’s don’t forget Higbee and Akers/Williams as targets, too.

What D can handle that for 60 minutes? They might collectively rewrite the record books, man.
Yes, I did make it a big If....but I run much more conservation than you on this.

Yes OBJ would be a good thing but I want what you want to give to OBJ for a few late-season games to be available cap fund investment on stand-by ready to leap pounce on any veteran starting {interior OG/OC or 34D ER or pass rushing DT} (for a full season of work) if one fails off another team's roster at the beginning of the regular season.

If Jefferson, Atwell, Harris & Skowronek can NOT end up being the 3rd/ 4th/ 5th/ 6th WR's then there have been some big mistakes made high in this Org the last two seasons in drafting.

Snead has a few young pass-catching TE's that also needs another good season workout too.