OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) John Harbaugh insists he saw Puka Nacua's incredible rookie season coming.

“I liked him. He was one of my highest-rated guys. You can ask anybody here. ... He was way up on my board," the Baltimore coach said with a smile this week. "He’s playing exactly how I thought he would, for the record.”

Nacua, of course, has taken much of the NFL by surprise. After being picked in the fifth round by the Rams, the 6-foot-2 receiver already has 77 catches for 1,029 yards.

This week, he goes up against Baltimore's Zay Flowers in a matchup of two of the game's top first-year wideouts when the Ravens host Los Angeles on Sunday.

Flowers, a first-round pick by the Ravens, has 58 catches for 613 yards. He scored two touchdowns - one receiving and one rushing - in Baltimore's most recent game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I’ve definitely seen what he’s been doing, so it’s been so cool, especially for one of the young guys,” Nacua said. “I love watching receivers and people getting open and scoring touchdowns. That’s a fun thing I like to watch about football, so watching him play is definitely exciting.”

The Ravens (9-3) have won six of seven and lead the AFC North by two games. The Rams (6-6) are on a three-game winning streak that has pulled them into the thick of the NFC playoff race.

Nacua (shoulder) was listed as limited in practice this week, but he caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Cleveland.

Nacua would need 445 yards receiving over the next five games to break Bill Groman's NFL rookie record, and he needs 28 catches to break the single-season rookie mark set by Jaylen Waddle.


In these teams’ last meeting, the Rams edged Baltimore late in the regular season in January 2022 on their way to an eventual Super Bowl victory - but Tyler Huntley was the Ravens’ quarterback.

The last time Los Angeles faced Lamar Jackson, the soon-to-be NFL MVP winner humiliated the Rams’ defense with five touchdown passes and 95 yards rushing in a 45-6 victory at the Coliseum. The Rams’ utter helplessness against Jackson’s skills was a major factor in coach Sean McVay’s decision to drop defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and retool his defense under Brandon Staley in 2020.

“He was awesome. Oh, man,” McVay said of Jackson’s 2019 performance. “He’s been a great player. Explosive playmaker. He’s doing a lot of really good things this year. That was not a fond memory for the Rams in 2019, but he did his thing. You look at it, it was like clockwork.”


Jackson is 13-3 in December, but the Ravens haven't had him down the stretch the past two years.

In 2021, he injured an ankle at Cleveland on Dec. 12. And in 2022, he hurt a knee against Denver on Dec. 4. He missed the rest of the season both times.

He has been available every game so far this season, although he did miss practice Thursday with an illness. Jackson is 18-1 as a starter against NFC teams in his career.


Baltimore leads the NFL with 47 sacks, but the Rams have dramatically improved their pass protection for Matthew Stafford this season.

The 15-year veteran wasn’t sacked in Los Angeles’ last two games, and Stafford has been sacked only four times in his last five games. After struggling with injuries throughout last season before getting sidelined for good at midseason with a bruised spinal cord, Stafford hasn’t even been on the Rams’ injury report this month.

He has thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games after having just nine in his first nine games.


Odell Beckham Jr. played for the Rams when they won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, although he injured his knee in that title game and wasn't able to play again until this season with the Ravens.

Beckham actually scored the winning touchdown in the final minute the last time these teams met, a 20-19 victory by Los Angeles in Baltimore.

“Two years ago, I was over there, and I scored a touchdown to win the game,” he said. “Now, I’m over here. Hopefully, I can do the same thing and return the favor to them.”


Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf) missed the past two games, but was able to practice this week and appears ready to return. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (concussion) was limited in practice.


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