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Rams veteran punter still gets his kicks
ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams punter Bryan Barker wouldn't mind giving the foul weather a swift kick.
The 16-year veteran, who signed last week with the Rams, has done little punting as the team practiced indoors Monday and Tuesday at Rams Park. So far, he has not been able to compete much with rookie Reggie Hodges for the job since he was brought in Thursday.
"I watched him (Hodges) play on Friday night. We've had rain since, and we're indoors here, and it's not really a place to kick inside here," said Barker, 41.
"Hopefully, the competition will heat up. I wouldn't have come here unless I thought I had a chance to compete for the job."
Barker has been working since 1990 when he broke in with Kansas City. After four years with the Chiefs, Barker spent one year with Philadelphia and punted for Jacksonville for six years. Barker then spent three seasons with Washington before joining Green Bay last year. In all, he has appeared in 227 games. Barker has made 1,082 punts in his career with an average of 42.1 per kick.
All those travels have left Barker with a veteran's mentality. He knows punters are changed as often as oil in a car. It comes with the territory.
"I wouldn't say (you need a) thick skin; you just need to be very levelheaded," Barker said. "You deal with the good and the bad and don't get too excited with the good and don't get too down with the bad. It's one kick at a time, the old cliche."
Staying in shape, Barker said he expected to get a call from a team sometime in August. He was watching his son run in a track meet in New Orleans when the Rams called.
"I've been doing it a long time," Barker said. "You always have to be ready."
That's why the Rams signed him.
Hodges, a sixth-round draft choice from Ball State, began training camp as the only Rams punter on the roster. However, he did not put a stranglehold on the job.
In the Rams' first night practice, Hodges did not perform to expectations.
That performance convinced Rams coach Mike Martz to bring in another punter to provide Hodges with competition. The move also gave Martz some veteran insurance.
"After watching Reggie and his inconsistencies, we have to protect ourselves," Martz said. "In terms of a punter, I'm a front-runner all the way, I can promise you that."
In the preseason opener last Friday, a 17-13 victory over visiting Chicago, Hodges punted six times for a 39.8 average. He placed three punts inside the 20. He had a long kick of 49 yards.
"The thing with Reggie Hodges is consistency," Martz said. "He has the talent to be an outstanding punter. The one thing he has to do is do it when the pressure is on, so we have tried to put as much pressure on him as we can to get used to it. That's his only drawback, but he is for sure a talented young man."
Barker did not kick in the game. Coaches told him Hodges would be getting the work.
"They wanted Reggie to take the whole game," Barker said. "I just hit a few balls."
A father with three kids ages 13, 12 and 7, who are "big time into soccer," Barker said his youngsters now will follow the Rams.
"Absolutely, they're dad fans," Barker said, grinning.
Notes: Martz said news on LB Brandon Chillar's ailing shoulder is good. Martz said the club will hold Chillar out for up to three weeks to make sure he regains strength in his shoulder. ... CB Jerametrius Butler was in Alabama on Tuesday to get another opinion on his knee. He saw a specialist Monday in New York. Butler tore a ligament in his right knee on July 28.
Re: Rams veteran punter still gets his kicks
I think butler should get surgery.No telling what kind of damage he could get if he plays,and how good could he be in that kind of pain.I'd rather not risk him for 2006.
I think when hodges settles down hes going to be awesome,hopefully by Sept.If not we have a good back up.My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild