Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Morning Ram-blings: Hekker's strong start
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In the past two weeks, there haven't been many positives for the St. Louis Rams to point to after consecutive 24-point losses. The player who perhaps has been the Rams' best has also been one of its busiest.
Punter Johnny Hekker has been the team's most consistent performer in the first quarter of the season and is putting together an early case to be in the mix for a Pro Bowl spot should he continue at his current rate.
Statistically, Hekker sits second in the league in net punting (distance of the punt minus return yardage) and Pro Football Focus rates him as the best punter in the league with a cumulative score of 12.4. On 25 punts, opponents have returned just eight with a total gain of 21 yards. That means Hekker is getting the distance, hang time and location he wants on the majority of his punts.
Near the end of last season, Hekker found himself running into some inconsistency and though he has yet to carry this early season showing deep into the year, he's showing signs of getting the consistency that he and special teams coach John Fassel want.
Obviously, the Rams would prefer to have players at more prominent positions ranking near the top of the league in their respective categories, but Hekker deserves a tip of the cap for the way he's started the season.
Your daily roundup of yesterday's stories from right here on ESPN.com. ... We started with a look at the Rams' spot in the Power Rankings after they dipped to No. 26 on the list this week. ... From there, it was a quick post-practice injury update. ... Then it was all linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar all the time. First, the news that he officially re-signed and then a breakdown of why his return comes not a moment too soon.
Our own Michael DiRocco offered Jacksonville fans a first look at the Rams.
At stltoday.com, Jeff Gordon draws up the many comparisons between the Rams and Jaguars right now.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jim Thomas details the Rams' poor start and compares it to other sluggish beginnings from coach Jeff Fisher's history.
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora writes that Dunbar's return should help the Rams defense though apparently it should help in coverage, an area Dunbar won't be playing much.