In LA Rams News: The team announced signing punter Brandon Wright to the practice squad to ensure ST specialists insured against positive COVID-19 testing
The LA Rams are certainly learning their way through the 2020 NFL season. Who can blame them? After all, the 2020 NFL season has been the most unique and bizarre season in NFL history. The Rams, like every NFL team this year, must deal with all of the normal interruptions and chaos. But this year, the team has been forced to do so while fending off the daily threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, the team is not alone in that effort. The NFL and NFLPA agreed upon establishing protocols to mitigate the risks of playing football this year. The first modification was to remodel the locker rooms to ensure a safe distance would be maintained between players at all times. Then the NFL/NFLPA addressed player safety with a new set of rules and regulations to be enforced at all times.
Even with all of those measures in place, the Rams were reminded throughout the season of the risks of COVID-19 and the impact of afflicting key players on either offense or defense. As the season progressed, the Rams continued to learn, and adapt. Near the end of October 2020, the LA Rams signed kicker Austin MacGinnis to the practice squad. At the time, it seemed like a conservative move if their newly signed kicker, Kai Forbath, didn’t pan out. But it proved to be something far more strategic.
When the Rams signed long snapper Colin Holba to the practice squad, evidence began to point towards a more strategic direction. The Rams have learned by the misfortunes of other NFL teams that their practice squad can roster backups to unique special teams’ players who are typically unique on an NFL team’s roster. And so, the Rams have completed the set by signing punter Brandon Wright to join kicker Austin MacGinnis and long snapper Colin Holba on the practice squad.
Now, the special teams’ set is complete.
Practice squad evolving
The charter of the Rams practice squad has changed quite a bit and continues to evolve even now. Historically, the Rams practice squad has served as an incubation chamber to develop raw talent and coach them up to an NFL-caliber player. That charter has taken on a new mission in 2020. Even with the increase of the practice squad roster to 16 players, the Rams began the season stuffing the practice squad with young players who needed refinement.
But the Rams have been learning, and have shifted to stock the practice squad with unique position players for emergency use in case of an untimely COVID-19 positive test. The latest is the addition of Brandon Wright as a punter. Wright is a 5-foot-10 180-pound kicker/punter signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2020 NFL Draft.
He played one game for the Jaguars on week 3, kicking one of two extra points before falling to a groin injury and being released with an injury settlement. Now, he has been added to the Rams practice squad with a punter designation. Rookie Brandon Wright was the punter for Georgia State and punted a healthy 183 times over four seasons for a 43.3 punting average.
The bonus of adding a player like Wright is that he has experience as both a punter and kicker and that could prove to be a distinct advantage for the Rams this season. That could play a part in the future of the Rams should the team need a slot on the practice squad. In any case, the Rams have added a punter/kicker to the practice squad. Hopefully, he will not be needed to be elevated to the active roster.