Rams ST Coordinator names key players to solving befuddling KO challenge

LA Rams ST Coordinator Chase Blackburn opens up about the strategy Rams will take to master new NFL kickoff rules, and names key player to solve the puzzle.
NFL Combine, Joshua Karty
NFL Combine, Joshua Karty / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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Blackburn describes ideal players for the new KO rules

Special teams have long been the onramp to ensure rookies of a spot on the team's 53-man roster, and 2024 will almost certainly continue that trend. But who will ascend as the primary competitors for those roles, particularly when the coaching staff continues to assess the impact of the new kickoff and what type of player that may require? Well, you will be pleased to learn that Blackburn already has identified the type of player he is seeking to excel in the new kickoff environment.

(13:00) - "From a returner perspective . . . guys like center fielders. (Guys who can) cover a lot of ground, can read, can get a good jump off the bat . . ."

That is a pretty standard description, although if you cross-reference this description with the way the team is approaching the play design of the return unit, you would logically conclude that this role is ideally suited for a running back, then wide receiver, then defensive back. That could give the nod to Rams newly added veteran RB Boston Scott.

A follow up question identifies Boston Scott as someone who Chase Blackburn describes as a veteran who has taken a leadership role on return units, and I project him as the team's kickoff returner for 2024.

(14:20) - "You don't want your kicker to make a ton of tackles. There are not too many position players that you can bank on to make 80 percent of your kicks."

The premise of using a defensive player in the traditional kickoff rule was presented and pretty much negated by Chase Blackburn here. The Rams know that unless the kicker has nearly pinpoint accuracy, opposing offenses will have a chance to take over with excellent field position. Blackburn cites a quick and dirty risk/reward analysis that leaves everyone in the room convinced that the Rams kickers (whether rookie K Joshua Karty or second-year K Tanner Brown) will be handling the job for the team.