The LA Rams training camp goal to fill PR and KR roles is like finding needles in a haystack
The LA Rams ST Coordinator John Bonamego has his work cut out for him. There’s not enough time to settle upon a 53-man roster. So how will he even have a chance to staff his special teams’ players? Well, you control what you can control. That means that Coach Bonamego can only assess players for special teams play.
We know that All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker is a lock for the punting duties this season. The Rams have one of the best punters in the NFL (hence, the All-Pro designation), and the value of Hekker is undeniable. In a defensive contest, a good punter is an equivalent of getting a five-yard run at every possession exchange. Punter? Check.
And we know reports that continue to trickle out of training camp indicate that the Rams kicking competition is too close to call, and all three kickers are doing well in terms of accuracy. Little information exists about the 40+ yards distance that was so poor from the Rams last season. If no kicker can boom the long-distance kicks, the team may opt to go for it on fourth down, or punt to the corner. Kicker? TBD.
The Rams kick return roles have gotten sparse coverage. In fact, the Rams coverage hasn’t paid much attention to the competition. However, we did learn during day two training camp coverage that the Rams have spotted RB Darrell Henderson, RB John Kelly, and CB David Long Jr. into a kick return role. While the team will likely try out other players, it appears that the Rams are considering veterans for the position. Keep in mind that the team will likely have two kick returners. Kick returner? TBD.
So the final skill position for the team remaining is that of the punt return role. Per the report from Jourdan Rodrigue from the Athletic, the Rams have given some players a chance at the punt return role: rookie WR Earnest Edwards, CB Donte Deayon, WR Cooper Kupp, WR Robert Woods, and WR Nsimba Webster. Webster is the tenured veteran at the role, so he is the likely player to win the role. Keep an eye on Earnest Edwards, however. Punt returner? TBD.
Right now, the team is likely casting the wide net to determine who shows the most promise in the role.
The Rams will discover more during their first scrimmage. While it remains to be seen if the team will include full kickoff, punts, punt returns and other special teams plays as part of the natural game flow or if the team will script specific scenarios to attempt is unknown. What is know is that the special teams roster will be one of the last areas for the team to finalize. Progress is slow so far.