The St. Louis Rams raised a few eyebrows when the team opted to go for a pair of rookie legs to take over for two established veterans at kicker and punter. Undrafted free agent punter Johnny Hekker from Oregon State takes over for Donnie Jones. A different face punting the ball might not be the only unique look for the Rams' unit this season according to head coach Jeff Fisher.
The Rams like Hekker's ability to throw the ball as well as punt it.
Said Fisher, "he can throw and that's a big part of our punt team - his ability to throw."
That does not necessarily mean that the Rams punt team will be running trick plays each week. It has as much to do with the ability to get out of trouble with a bobbled snap. Nevertheless, Fisher praised special teams coach Jim Fassel for his work with the special teams unit, including his creativity.
"His creativity," Fisher responded when asked why he liked Fassel. "His energy. He's taken a very complex scheme and simplified it. So the appearance is that it's complex, but it's simple for the players. Every position is interchangeable. The concepts are interchangeable as you move back and forth from the coverage units to the return units. You just plug people in. They were very productive from a fake standpoint at Oakland, from block-kick standpoint, return standpoints. He's very knowledgeable."
Punting was the primary focus on Wednesday's practice at the ContinutiyX Training Center. It was also the first padded practice of training camp.
A number of players were returning punts in practice this week, including rookies Isaiah Pead, Chris Givens and Janoris Jenkins. Despite auditions, Danny Amendola remains the Rams' top option for returning punts this season.
"We know Danny can do it," Fisher said. "Obviously, we're looking for a couple back up guys that we can trust to make the decisions."