2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Rams' punter, special teams a key to streak

    2012-12-13 04:03

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By JASON L. YOUNG
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Johnny Hekker is beginning to make his mark as one of five rookie punters in the NFL.

The Rams' punt team's statistics don't give much reason for pause, ranking in the bottom third in net average, percentage of punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line, fair catches forced and several other categories. But what coach Jeff Fisher likes is Hekker's ability to help the Rams overcome their anemic offense by repeatedly ``flipping the field'' to help the defense.

``I wouldn't say I'm good at too much, but I try to be all right at a couple of things,'' Hekker said Wednesday as the Rams prepared to host Minnesota on Sunday.

The best returners aren't getting far if they do catch the ball. The Rams are tied for sixth in the number of returns attempted against them and tied for 12th with an average of 10.2 yards allowed per return.

In its 15-12 victory Sunday at Buffalo, the best punt return team in the league, Hekker punted eight times. Returner Leodis McKelvin averaged 10.2 yards in four returns, 8.5 yards below his average.

``Well, considering the quality of returners that we've faced, it seems that week after week after week, I'd say they've done an outstanding job,'' Fisher said. ``I mean, week after week we're putting a lot of pressure on Johnny to put the ball on the boundary to angle kick, which is difficult. And it seems like with consistency the guys are getting down and making the plays.''

Learning to kick directionally - away from the returner and toward the sideline - has been the key to his success. Hekker averaged just over 41 yards per punt while at Oregon State, including 44 per attempt his senior year.

Instead of booming the ball as far as he can, Hekker has worked diligently since joining the Rams at attempting to pin the returner against the sideline or kick the ball out of bounds but still get good distance on the kick.

Long snapper Jake McQuaide appreciates the approach.

``He's doing a great job punting the ball, matching his hang time with his distance, which is a huge deal for the other guys that have to cover it,'' McQuaide said. ``He's not just hitting line drive punts that the guy catches it he has 20, 30 yards of space and he can make us all miss. And he's doing a great job at direction. He's doing a great job of doing his job, being a pro and he's done it from Day 1 of being here.''

Hekker has seen plenty of action. The offense has a 33.3 percent success rate in converting third downs, ranking 28th in the league. Though Fisher feels comfortable with Greg Zuerlein attempting field goals from as far as 55 yards under any circumstance, the Rams have called on their punter 70 times.

One of those times was a run that lost 9 yards. Three were passing attempts - all completions - including one for a touchdown in a 19-13 victory against Seattle. The other 66 times, Hekker has worked on his real job of punting.

``I just got to be consistent, punt balls with good hang time, direction and distance, try and squeeze the returner up against the sideline so he doesn't have very much room,'' he said. ``Just doing my best to make sure, when there's a tackle to be made, that our guys are going to be in good positions because the ball's in the right spot.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tyler EifertJul 30 03:23p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert said he is 100% healthy for the first time since the beginning of last offseason.

LeGarrette BlountJul 30 01:22p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was placed on the Non-Football Injury list because he was not able to complete the conditioning test at the start of training camp. [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 30 01:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (hamstring) said his hamstrings are fine and that he is 100% healthy entering training camp.

Terrance WestJul 30 12:52p

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West worked with the first-team offense during team drills Thursday, July 30. Head coach Mike Pettine said several running backs will see time with the starters during training camp.

Trent RichardsonJul 30 10:22a

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson is rumored to being unimpressive with his new team.

Tom BradyJul 30 10:12a

Updating an ongoing story, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's lawsuit was transferred to Manhattan, N.Y., by a Minnesota judge Friday, July 30.

Tom BradyJul 30 09:52a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has filed a lawsuit against the NFL asking a Minnesota federal court for penalties against Brady to be vacated. The suit alleges that [ More ]

Jake LongJul 30 09:42a

Free-agent OT Jake Long (Rams) left his visit with the New York Giants Wednesday, July 29, without a deal. It was his second visit with the team without a [ More ]

Joseph RandleJul 29 08:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle received strong praise from team owner and general manager Jerry Jones Wednesday July 29. 'We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential [ More ]

Joique BellJul 29 07:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (undisclosed) was placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, July 29, as he recovers from offseason surgery. It is unclear what the [ More ]

James WrightJul 29 06:43p

Free-agent WR James Wright (Bengals) was placed on Reserve/Injured Wednesday, July 29.

Jordan ReedJul 29 05:43p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (knee) has been cleared for full participation in training camp, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Chase CoffmanJul 29 04:53p

Free-agent TE Chase Coffman (Titans) re-signed with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday, July 29, according to a source.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:33p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) can be placed on the Non-Football Injury list if/when he signs his franchise tender. Owner John Mara said the team would like [ More ]

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:23p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) is receiving his own medical treatment and rehabilitation at his home. There is currently no timetable for his return. Pierre-Paul, however, could [ More ]

Roddy WhiteJul 29 03:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White (knee) had his left knee drained before minicamp, and he could have it drained again before the season ends. White isn't concerned about it, [ More ]

Ryan KerriganJul 29 01:43p

Washington Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan signed a five-year contract extension Wednesday, July 29, worth $11.5 million per season, according to a source. The deal includes a $16 million signing bonus.

Cyrus GrayJul 29 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray was released Wednesday, July 29.

Carlos HydeJul 29 11:13a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde is not believed to be injured and shouldn't be on the non-football injury list for long. Hyde suffered a calf injury during spring [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 09:23a

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady posted on Facebook that he replaced his broken phone with a new one after his attorneys told the NFL 'my [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 01:53a

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady could have had his suspended reduced based on a series of conditions. According to a source with knowledge of [ More ]

Eric BerryJul 29 01:43a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) has been cleared to take the practice field with the team Wednesday, July 29. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December [ More ]

Geno SmithJul 28 08:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith could be benched if he struggles early in the season, according to head coach Todd Bowles Tuesday, July 28. 'If you feel that [ More ]

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Tuesday, July 28.

Brodrick BunkleyJul 28 05:43p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (undisclosed) was released with a failed physical designation Tuesday, July 28.

James WrightJul 28 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR James Wright (knee) was waived with an injured designation Tuesday, July 28.

Darrin ReavesJul 28 05:33p

Carolina Panthers RB Darrin Reaves was waived Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 05:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is facing a four-game suspension, but the Patriots have done fairly well without him. In games Brady has missed since he became a [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 28 04:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has given permission to the NFL Players Association to appeal his case in federal court, according to a source. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell [ More ]

Lamar MillerJul 28 03:43p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller may see an increase in carries in 2015, according to head coach Joe Philbin. 'If he's cranking and he got it 24 times a [ More ]

Le'Veon BellJul 28 03:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's original three-game suspension has been reduced to a two-game suspension Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 02:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, July 28.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group