The Rams’ Tutu Atwell has a lot to prove at this training camp to shorten his path to wide receiver.

He built his NFL Draft resume with speed, toughness, and elusiveness.

These qualities attracted the attention Sheepbut the diminutive helped Tutu Atwell became surprise second-round pick in 2021.

But after a disappointing and injury-marred rookie season, 165-pound, 5-9 Atwell used his phone to make what could be the most important move of his young career.

After the Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, Atwell wrote to star receiver Cooper Kupp.

The message was simple. And straight.

“I want to be great,” Atwell said.

Kupp’s answer?

“Whatever it takes to make you a better person, I’m there,” Atwell said.

Atwell spent most of that offseason working out on the field, in the gym, and in the conference room with Kupp, the NFL’s top hitter of the year.

“He would be the first to tell you that last year wasn’t what he wanted his rookie season to be,” Kapp said. “He’s excited to be able to come here and do something good in second grade and just leave it at that.”

During organized team practice, Atwell received praise from the coach in comments to reporters. Sean McVey, who questioned Atwell’s urgency last season. Atwell will get another chance to showcase the results of his newfound commitment when the Rams begin training camp at UC Irvine on Saturday.

During this time, Atwell will try to show McVeigh that he should be part of a receiver rotation that will include Kupp, the new addition. Allen Robinsonthird-year pro Van Jefferson and second-year pro Ben Skowronek.

Free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may eventually re-sign with the Rams, but he continues to bounce back after knee surgery and he is not expected to play for the Rams or any other team until the middle of the season.

Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell (15) was taken off the field after suffering an injury in an October road game against Houston.

Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell (15) was taken off the field after suffering an injury in an October road game against Houston.

(Justin Rex/Associated Press)

“Going into my second year, I feel more comfortable,” Atwell said during off-season training. “You know the games and it’s, ‘How can I help the team by making a few games when my number is called?’ ”

Ram surprised most NFL observers when they selected Atwell with the 57th pick. Atwell showed in Louisville that he was a promising player, but the fact that the Rams chose him smacked of arrogance – that McVeigh and the general manager Les Snead considered themselves smarter than everyone.

Atwell did not hush up this story when he could not find a place in the reception building. Like many rookies, he was mentally and physically overwhelmed by the demands of training and execution in the NFL.

He returned 10 punts and five kickoffs in eight games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery.

“It was kind of a learning experience,” Atwell said.

On and off the field.

“It’s like he took it all for granted,” receiver coach Eric Yarber said.

Atwell made a pact with himself not to repeat his rookie mistakes.

He acknowledged that elite athletes can be proud. Some are reluctant to seek help. But Atwell said he didn’t hesitate to contact Kupp.

“It wasn’t that hard,” he said. “Sometimes you have to swallow that pride. He is an excellent player. Triple crown. Why not? “

Atwell said Kupp took him “under his wing”. He followed, observed, and interacted with the sixth-year pro who led the NFL last season in catching, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

The two receivers were on the field and in the gym almost daily, Atwell said.

“Get stronger, get faster and better, train each other,” Atwell said. “He listens to me about some things and I listen to him.”

According to Kupp, Atwell is a “special player” who “can do incredible things” on the pitch.

“I’m excited to see some of these things come to life,” Kapp said, “because he’s been working really hard in rehab and also just working on himself, learning the play, about all the things he needs to do to make sure that when he gets on the field, he can just play his game.”

According to Yarber, Atwell’s progress was evident during off-season training and mini-camp.

“Like day and night,” he said.

Yarber said Atwell has learned the rules of the game and is always on top when asked.

“Cooper shows him how to be a pro and he takes those lessons,” Yarber said.

Comrades noticed.

defender Matthew Stafford did not pass during off-season practice, but watched Atwell run the routes and catch passes from substitutes John Woolford and Bryce Perkins.

“Everything he does seems to be much more deliberate,” Stafford said. “As a sophomore and developing player, he understands that every thing is important and tries to make the most of every exercise.”

Here’s what wide receiver Van Jefferson had to say: “You can see the level of maturity from his rookie year to his sophomore year – it’s a leap for him. I am very happy to be with him on the field and see how he plays.

Atwell is confident he will help the Rams as they try to repeat their Super Bowl title.

“I’ve always been confident in myself – I bet on myself all the time,” he said. “I just do what I have to.”