The LA Rams signed veteran punter Riley Dixon, added undrafted former Texas rookie punter/kicker Cameron Dicker, and even tried out former Nevada punter Julian Diaz, before settling in on Riley Dixon to handle the Rams punting duties for the team’s upcoming 2022 NFL season.
Now the question is, did they make that decision too quickly?
Against the LA Chargers, Cameron Dicker punted three times for 158 yards, averaging 52.7 yards per punt. As far as punt returns, the Chargers racked up 11 yards in two returns, averaging 5.5 yards per return. Net? 49 yards per punt.
Against the Houston Texans, Riley Dixon punted six times for 280 yards, averaging 46.7 yards. The Texans returned 43 yards on four returns. averaging 10.8 yards per return. Net? 39.5 yards per punt. Hmmm . . .
Well that may have been a bad outing, right? So what about in Week 3? Once more, Riley Dixon has punted four times for 199 yards, averaging 49.8 yards per punt. The Bengals have returned three punts, putting up 26 yards in punt returns. Net? 43.25 yards per punt.
While that is not horrible, it’s only good enough for 30th in an NFL comprised of 32 teams.
Of course, there are multiple factors that must be weighed in the decision over who is the starting punter. One factor is the ability to hold for field goals and extra points, and the Rams certainly faced challenges at that with the punter/kicker option of Cameron Dicker, who had not held for another kicker in his collegiate career.
The Rams’ ability to distill down to the best special team performer has not exactly been instant hits in the past. The Rams had to cycle through three placekickers, plus try out two others, before finally settling on starting kicker Matt Gay.
While we had hoped that the Rams might be a bit more successful in the team’s selection process for a starting punter, I’m not feeling all warm and fuzzy right now. I haven’t gone down to measuring hang time, but I can say that Dicker was far more effective in his limited punts at kicking away from the punt returner, while Dixon seems to punt rather quickly into the returner.
Perhaps the Rams’ 53-man roster will be more effective at covering punts? Perhaps the Rams will have better punts designed for the regular season? While that is true, one more thing is true.
The LA Rams punting under Riley Dixon is already a concern, and it’s just preseason.