LA Rams PR/KR Brandon Powell will be more special in 2022
By Bret Stuter
When the LA Rams took a chance at promoting WR Brandon Powell to become their primary special team’s return specialist, there was no reason to believe that he would be especially effective. Like taking your car to a bad auto repair shop, the frustrated Rams had already run the gamut of trial and error with seven other players, mainly errors, and the fact is that the Rams were just slinging players into that return role to see if someone, anyone, could stick.
Brandon Powell did stick in the role. He stuck on the LA Rams roster as the starting return specialist. Then, he stuck it to opponents. From the moment that he stepped foot onto the football field for the LA Rams, he had a bit of a good-luck charm aura about him. Before he arrived, the LA Rams were a respectable but not excellent 7-4. After he arrived, the LA Rams went on a 5-1 run in the regular season, and a 4-0 run in the playoffs.
Was it all due to Branon Powell? No, I’m not that naive. But he did a lot for the LA Rams’ overall performance. And you could make the argument that it was his punt return for a touchdown that was the margin of victory on the road against a player-hunting Minnesota Vikings.
The thing is that the LA Rams special teams have stopped being special since 2018. But there are several factors to believing that the team
Steps to make LA Rams special teams special again
The first and perhaps most important step was the LA Rams signing on placekicker Matt Gay. Gay’s Pro Bowl nod in the 2021 NFL season was completed justified, as the Rams placekicker proved to be both incredibly accurate as well as blessed with a powerful leg. He was the difference in one regular-season game and proved to have ice in his veins in booting game-winners in three of four NFL playoff games.
Step two was discovering just how well WR/PR/KR Brandon Powell could play on special teams. While he was thought of as just a minor free agent signing, Powell proved to be the guy in punt and kick returns that the team had hoped rookie Tutu Atwell might become. His debut did not occur until the Rams played him in Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That now leaves the punter role as the last special teams specialist to be filled since the Rams were the talk of the NFL in terms of their sensational 2018 special teams play.
But even as the Rams search for the successor to Johnny Hekker, they will have 17, not six, weeks of WR/PR/KR Brandon Powell in 2022. That alone could play a huge factor in the Rams’ overall 2022 performance.
While there will certainly be competition for special team roles in this training camp, I look for Brandon Powell to emerge as the starter once more. He did as much for the Rams return game as Matt Gay did for the kicking game.