Last season, one part of the Rams that was missing early on was a legitimate return threat. The team experimented with different players, placing Jake Funk at kick returns and Tutu Atwell at punt returns, and even tried Tutu’s hand at kick returning as well.
While both players were serviceable, they lacked that explosiveness that is needed in the return game, an aspect of special teams that can have a massive impact on the outcome of any given football game. Then, following some injuries to the roster, the Rams signed free agent Brandon Powell, a man with only 2 seasons of regular season experience at the time.
Powell would immediately be inserted into the starting lineup as the returner for both kicks and punts, and he got off to a blazing start in his very first return of the season. On the opening kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Powell returned the kick for a gain of 65 yards, almost taking his very first touch as a Ram all the way to the house. At that moment, Rams fans rejoiced, as they may have finally found a legitimate return specialist.
As the season went on, Powell proved that return was far from a fluke, as he averaged 22.2 yards per punt return to go along with a 61 yard house call in a pivotal moment against the Minnesota Vikings in week 16. Powell also averaged 26 yards per return on his 8 kick returns total, posting a grand total of 341 on kick/punt returns combined in his stint with the Rams last season. Safe to say Brandon Powell has found a home in the near future in Los Angeles as a returner, a returner that is very good at what he does, yet not many NFL fans know who he is. Kick/punt returning has a certain skill to it, and there is much more to it than just the ability to run fast.
Powell has the ability to read blocks as well as read the overall pursuit of the kickoff/punt teams, and they both seem to come natural to him, as they are abilities that cannot really be coached or taught. Whether fans know him or not, Powell is one of the biggest emerging talents in the NFL return game.
Now, please enjoy today’s links:
Los Angeles Rams unveil Super Bowl LVI Ring (TheRams.com)