Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Pair of Rams earn All Rookie honors
By Nick Wagoner
ST. LOUIS -- The award season has been good to St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and punter Johnny Hekker. On Tuesday, it was time for another pair of Rams to gain some accolades.
The Pro Football Writers of America handed out rookie honors and Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and punt returner Tavon Austin made the team.
Ogletree's inclusion was a no brainer after he led the Rams in tackles with 118 tackles in addition to his six forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and nine pass breakups. Ogletree improved throughout the season and announced himself as a possible future star in his rookie season.
Austin's spot is a little bit more up for debate. He had 33 punt returns for 280 yards, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown. His return average of 8.48 yards per attempt was solid and would have been better if not for some silly early-season penalties on the team's return units.
But Green Bay cornerback Micah Hyde actually could present a case just as strong, if not better. Hyde had 24 punt returns for 296 yards, an average of 12.33 yards per attempt and also had a touchdown. For the record, the All Rookie team differentiates between kick and punt returners. Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson won the kick return award as a slam dunk choice.
Some Rams fans might be wondering about the absence of Zac Stacy at the running back position. Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, who won the overall Rookie of the Year award, and Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard claimed the two running back spots. While Stacy had more rushing yards than Bernard, the Bengals' rookie back had a bigger role in the passing game and finished with more total yards.
Certainly, an argument could be made for Stacy and had he played all 16 games, chances are he'd have not only made it over Bernard but potentially pushed Lacy for the overall award. As it is, it's hard to quibble with the selection of Lacy and Bernard since all three backs were deserving.