IRVINE — Some receivers take offense if they’re not described as an all-around playmaker, but not Tutu Atwell and he doesn’t care that he’s being labeled as a deep-threat specialist.
Atwell is focused on gaining trust from his Rams coaches and teammates and he’s doing that by stretching the field with his blazing speed.
“I can do it all, but I have to gain that trust,” Atwell said Wednesday. “I’m working on gaining that trust and showing coaches that I can do a little bit of everything, so I can have more opportunities.”
Atwell has gained trust in the past week by making the most of the opportunities that were presented after wide receiver Van Jefferson went down with a knee tweak. He’s been on the receiving end of multiple deep touchdown passes from backup quarterback John Wolford.
The first one came Wednesday on a rollout from Wolford, which bought the speedy second-year wideout enough time to get downfield. The second deep touchdown occurred Thursday and that was just Wolford trusting Atwell to make a play by letting the ball fly.
Atwell is receiving more opportunities, but it also helps that the Rams are designing plays that suit his strengths. The 5-foot-9 Atwell also connected with Matthew Stafford on a deep strike during Thursday’s 7-on-7 period.
“I’ve seen it,” Atwell said about the designed plays for him. “We have talks about it in meetings, we look at it, read the script and they let me know what plays I’m in. When I get the opportunity, I just gotta show everybody what I can do, so they can trust me and I can make more plays.”
Expectations remain high for the 2021 second-round pick from Louisville, despite a shaky rookie season that was cut short because of a shoulder injury. Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp has raved about Atwell and he spent most of his rest day on Thursday coaching Atwell on the sideline during team drills. A few plays after meeting with Kupp, Atwell caught his touchdown bomb from Wolford.
With Atwell making the most of his opportunities as a deep threat, he’s gotten more snaps to showcase his full skillset. He’s at a disadvantage with his slim frame, but he’s shown toughness and reliable hands by making receptions in the middle of the field.
“He’s been great,” Kupp said. “Seeing him out here, he’s slowed down mentally, but physically he’s able to do all the things that you want. He’s flying around, making some tough plays. I think there’s just a little bit of growth that you have to go through. Unfortunately, (he) didn’t get the whole season last year. There’s that growth you have to go through matching the physicality of what this game is.
“I think he’s done a really good job stepping up to the plate to this point. There’s a lot of camp left and I’m looking forward to seeing him kind of continue to grow in that role.”
Another Wolford-to-Tutu touchdown bomb 🚨 #Rams
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) August 4, 2022
CAMP NOTES FROM THURSDAY
Wide receiver Jacob Harris didn’t practice because of a groin strain and he’s expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, according to Rams coach Sean McVay. The 6-foot-5 Harris started his career as a tight end last season before moving to wide receiver. …
Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis received a rest day as a precaution because of his history with knee injuries. The third-year player has had a strong camp and recently received praise from McVay and starting edge rusher Leonard Floyd. …
Rookie Decobie Durant saw action as the slot cornerback with the first-team unit. He recorded another takeaway after jumping in front of Atwell near the right sideline for an acrobatic interception. Durant and fellow rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick have received first-team snaps this week.
“Guys that aren’t afraid,” McVay said of the rookie cornerbacks. “It’s not too big for them, they come in there, I think when you’ve got veteran leaders like Bobby (Wagner), like Aaron (Donald), Leonard Floyd. You’re seeing great communication on the back end from some of our veteran safeties.
“There’s a lot of different things that we’re doing defensively but it’s not too big for them. They’re very confident and what I like as much as anything is their ability. If a play doesn’t go the way we want, hit the reset button with a short memory, but still have that swag and confidence to be able to make the play on the next one.” …
Second-year wide receiver Ben Skowronek managed to haul in a touchdown reception after being hit by multiple defenders during red-zone drills. Along with Skowronek and Atwell, Brandon Powell and J.J. Koski received opportunities with the first-team unit. Allen Robinson received a light workload during team drills and joined Kupp on the sideline.