Is it time to revisit tasking Tutu Atwell as the LA Rams return specialist?

Tutu Atwell
Tutu Atwell / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The LA Rams need to learn how to MacGyver their current roster to fill the role needs that have been vacated with the mass exodus of veteran players. One of the roles that should hold great concern for the LA Rams is the role on the Special Team's unit is that of return specialist. While I truly enjoyed the contribution of KR/PR/WR Brandon Powell and the way he seemed to float through the coverage to find an open lane to daylight, he is no longer with the team.

I abhor any attempt to place wide receiver Cooper Kupp into any kick or punt return role, despite the fact that he has excellent hands.

But is it time to revisit casting fleet-footed wide receiver into a punt return/kickoff return role for the 2023 NFL season? I think the Rams cannot afford not to right now.

With so many young players boarding the LA Rams bus this year, the entire Rams team will be heavily dependent on the proficiency of those rookies to make veteran-savvy decisions on the football field. As we know from the experience of the team in trying to coach up Tutu Atwell into a punt returner in 2021, sometimes the results fall short of expectations.

Tutu part II?

The LA Rams tried to involve Atwell on special teams in the 2021 NFL season, and he returned 10 punts for 54 yards and five kickoffs for 87 yards. In that year, he played just 10 offensive snaps and 27 special team snaps. In 2022, the Rams opted to cancel all of his special team duties, and focused on acclimating him to a role on offense. As a result, he played 308 offensive snaps, rushed nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown, and caught 18 of 35 targets for 298 yards and a touchdown.

But even with all that, the LA Rams have simply not gotten a reasonable return from their investment of a 57th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And it's that failure on ROI (Return On Investment) that has continued to frustrate LA Rams, still smoldering from the knowledge that an alternative to Atwell in the 2021 NFL Draft was offensive center Creed Humphrey, a lineman who was ultimately drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and has helped sustain the Chiefs remarkable string of NFL Playoff type seasons.

Tutu Atwell has become synonymous with an LA Rams draft strategy that appears to outthink itself, grabbling bauble and trinkets instead of grabbing foundational prospects who can help the team from the ground floor.

Now, the Rams may be pivoting to drafting rookies who can contribute to the durability and consistent performance of the overall team. And veteran Tutu Atwell is no longer a wide-eyed rookie trying to take it all in. Rather, he has NFL experience, enough to be considered as a top candidate to assume the Rams role as a return specialist in 2023.

Trending. How important is it for the LA Rams to land a top punter in the 2023 NFL Draft?. dark

If he fails, then the LA Rams had chosen foolishly in 2021, and nothing changes. If he succeeds, then he could become a far larger contributor to the Rams' success going forward.