Did the Rams find return specialists for 2021?
It seems as though the Rams have been searching for special team return specialists all season. Is it that hard to find a guy to do the job? Or is it simply that hard for the coaching staff to commit to a player and tell him that it’s his job?
Special teams have been a nightmare for the Rams this year, particularly the turnstile involved in sorting through a host of punt and kickoff returners for the team. But the performance of wide receiver J.J. Koski in Week 9 at punter returner and running back Buddy Howell as the kickoff returner was promising, promising enough to hope for repeat performances by both in Week 10.
Koski is a 6-foot1, 195-pound wide receiver who is deceptively swift. After all, he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, a decent enough high gear when woven into the ducking weaving, and darting required to return a punt. Since he is the fifth option on the Rams depth chart, his best option to contribute is in the special team unit.
Buddy Howell is a big-bodied rusher picked up to reinforce the running back position this year. At 6-foot-1 and 215-pounds, he is a burly powerful runner who can plow through would-be tacklers.
Because he is strong and big, he is a natural option for the Rams in short-yardage situations. Curiously, the Rams auditioned him for kick returns, and he did well enough against the Titans to get another crack at that role this week.
While Howell could be an important player in short-yardage situations for the offense as the season progresses, the Rams need to stabilize their return game here and now. Howell can help that effort tremendously.