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Rams show interest in return game

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  • Rams show interest in return game

    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, Apr. 25 2006

    Most of the pre-draft talk on the Rams has concerned the need for more
    defensive help. Or a tight end. Or even the possibility of taking a quarterback
    in the first round.

    But all along, the Rams have done a lot of evaluation designed to improved
    their return game - or lack thereof.

    A lot of games have gone by since the heyday of Tony Horne on kickoff returns
    and Az-Zahir Hakim on punt returns. The Rams haven't finished among the top 10
    in the NFL in punt returns since 2002 and in kickoff returns since 1999.

    They haven't been anywhere close to that lately. Last season, they ranked 29th
    in punt returns and 23rd in kickoff returns; in 2004, they finished 31st in
    both categories.

    But it looks like the Rams are determined to change that. No fewer than seven
    of the 33 players brought into Rams Park for pre-draft visits earlier this
    month had some kind of kick return experience in college.

    Some also play defensive back, or wide receiver, or running back. Or in the
    case of Miami's Devin Hester, he plays a little bit of everything.

    Hester and UCLA's Maurice Drew are the highest-profile returners who visited
    Rams Park. Over his college career with the Hurricanes, Hester returned four
    punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. He has ranked as high as sixth
    nationally in both kickoff returns (in 2003) and punt returns (in 2004).

    The secret to his success? "It's really not any secret," Hester said. "It's
    just natural instinct. I'm a visual-type player who can see things before they

    What NFL teams can't see is where to play Hester when he's not returning kicks.
    He has dabbled at cornerback, running back, and wide receiver, without truly
    excelling at any. But Hester's explosiveness as a return man alone should make
    him a second- or third-round pick in the draft.

    Throughout his college career, Drew was the "other" back in Los Angeles,
    playing second fiddle to Southern Cal's Reggie Bush. But Drew put up impressive
    numbers of his own, combining for more than 3,300 yards rushing and receiving.

    Drew's work as a return man was somewhat limited, but electric nonetheless.
    Over the course of his college career, he averaged 23.2 yards on 25 punt
    returns - four of which went for TDs. Meanwhile, he averaged 24.6 yards on 32
    kickoff returns, including two TDs.

    There are some concerns about Drew's height - he's only 5-6 1/2. The way he
    holds the football has some scouts concerned about the possibility of too many
    fumbles in the NFL.

    Even so, his ability to return kicks adds value to what probably will be a
    solid future in the NFL as a third-down back.

    "I think it's a very big plus," Drew said. "A lot of people don't want to go
    back there and return punts, just because it's dangerous. ...You've got to be
    able to concentrate on catching the ball and making a play."

    Were the Rams to seriously consider drafting Drew, his resume as a running back
    is such that they might have to take him in the second round (No. 46 overall).
    He may not be there when they pick in the third (No. 77).

    One of the most experienced return men in this year's draft class comes from
    Hazelwood East High via the University of Wisconsin. Wide receiver Brandon
    Williams is only the second player in NCAA Division I-A history with more than
    2,000 yards receiving and 2,000 yards in returns.

    By the numbers, last season was Williams' best as a returner. He averaged 28
    yards a return on 22 kickoffs, and 14.6 yards on 26 punt returns. He returned
    two punts for TDs.

    Williams, who projects as a third-round pick, is on the small side at 5-10, 179
    pounds. But he should have value in the NFL as a slot receiver. After finishing
    with 2,974 receiving yards for the Badgers, he doesn't want to get pigeon-holed
    as just a return man.

    "That would be a concern to someone like me," Williams said. "In my career I
    broke the Wisconsin record for most receptions in a career. ... So I'm not just
    a returner. I go get the rock."

    Other players with return experience who made pre-draft visits to Rams Park
    were Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie; Fresno State cornerback
    Richard Marshall; Abilene Christian defensive back Danieal Manning; and
    Lindenwood running back-defensive back DeDe Dorsey.

    Although he missed the entire 2005 season with a knee injury, Cromartie looks
    like a sure first-round pick. He returned kickoffs for the Seminoles in 2003
    and '04.

    Manning had three kickoff returns for TDs and three punt returns for scores for
    Abilene Christian. Five of those six returns TDs went for 59 yards or more.

    * * * * * *


    A look at where the Rams have ranked among 32 NFL teams in average punt
    and kick return yards in recent seasons:

    Punt returns yards (rank)
    5.8 (29th)
    Kick return yards (rank)
    21.4 (23rd)

    Punt returns yards (rank)
    4.8 (31st)
    Kick return yards (rank)
    19.1 (31st)

    Punt returns yards (rank)
    8.6 (19th)
    Kick return yards (rank)
    21.3 (17th)

  • #2
    Re: Rams show interest in return game

    I keep hearing about Cromartie. Are they perhaps considering moving down a few spots, picking up an extra 3rd round pick, and getting this guy?


    • #3
      Re: Rams show interest in return game

      Originally posted by sbramfan
      I keep hearing about Cromartie. Are they perhaps considering moving down a few spots, picking up an extra 3rd round pick, and getting this guy?
      Not a bad idea in my eyes.
      Maybe get Cromartie or Bobby Carpenter. I really like both.


      • #4
        Re: Rams show interest in return game

        If this is true, i like Jeremy Bloom, the olympic skier out of Purdue...he is small put has a good athletic ability and is quick

        we should use our 5th round pick on this guy that would be good if this return game theory is true


        • #5
          Re: Rams show interest in return game

          excuse my post before, Jeremy Bloom is out of Colorado not Purdue


          • #6
            Re: Rams show interest in return game

            I would love to see the Rams pick up an exciting return man. You gotta love special teams touchdowns.


            • #7
              Re: Rams show interest in return game

              Our special teams have sucked since letting Hakim go. Special teams win games guys. Watch the draft for selections to improve that element of the Ram's game. Get some hungry rookie talent, mix in some veteran smarts (something Martz refused to do), and you have yourself a team that will compete for the championship.
              Last edited by Guest; -04-27-2006, 07:04 PM.


              • #8
                Re: Rams show interest in return game

                Wow 31... really bad


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                • RamWraith
                  Rams trade for kick returner Dante Hall
                  by RamWraith
                  By Jim Thomas
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  In a move to solve their kick-return problems, the Rams have traded a fifth-round draft pick to Kansas City for Dante Hall.

                  Hall, 28, is a two-time Pro Bowler who has returned 11 punts and kickoffs for touchdowns in his NFL career.

                  The trade probably takes the Rams out of the running for Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. in the draft, to be held this weekend.

                  “We have filled a need with one of the top players in football at his specialty, returning punts and kicks,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said in a statement. “Dante will fit in nicely on our special teams and can be utilized as a receiver in certain situations.”

                  Hall's numbers have trailed off since his peak season in 2003, when he averaged 25.9 yards per kickoff return (2 for TDs) and 16.3 yards per punt return (with 2 TDs).

                  In 2006, his seventh NFL season, he averaged 22.8 yards for 53 kickoff returns and 8.9 yards for 27 punt returns, one for a touchdown. He also caught 26 passes, two for TDs.

                  Hall is third in NFL history with 11 kick returns for touchdowns, behind Brian MItchell (13) and Eric Metcalf (12). He has a career average of 24.0 yards for 360 kickoff returns and 10.0 yards for 188 punt returns -- all with the Chiefs.

                  Hall, who is 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds, has three KO returns of 97 yards or longer and two punt returns longer than 90 yards
                  -04-25-2007, 01:21 PM
                • ramsanddodgers
                  successive K.O. returns
                  by ramsanddodgers
                  Oakland runs back a kick off 91 yards for the touch and on the ensuing kickoff N.E. takes it 95 yards to the house...

                  I wonder if this has hapenned before?
                  -12-14-2008, 02:18 PM
                • MauiRam
                  Rams' special teams are making strides ..
                  by MauiRam
                  BY JIM THOMAS
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  At the start of the 2009 season, it looked like there were going to be enough Rams special teams blunders to fill a reel of football follies.

                  — There was a lost fumble on the season-opening kickoff return by Donnie Avery in Seattle.

                  — A blocked field goal returned for a touchdown by Quincy Butler in that same game was negated by a penalty for having 12 men on the field.
                  — Anthony Smith's holding penalty wiped out a 92-yard kickoff return by Danny Amendola to open the San Francisco game.

                  — And the ultimate in muffed punts in that same ***** game, resulting in a San Francisco touchdown. (The ball struck Butler in the leg; he compounded the problem by trying to pick up the ball in the end zone.)

                  Rookie special teams coordinator Tom McMahon stayed the course, and the Rams' play has stabilized in this area. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but at the midpoint of the 2009 season, the Rams rank seventh in punt coverage and 13th in kickoff coverage in the NFL. They finished 22nd and 32nd, respectively, in those areas last season.

                  The improvement isn't as dramatic in the return game, where the Rams rank 17th in punt returns and 19th in kickoff returns. They finished 21st and 22nd, respectively, last year.

                  "Tom McMahon has been resilient and has been relentless in his pursuit to be detailed and to keep guys consistent," place-kicker Josh Brown said. "So he's never wavered. And that's a big part of it. ... He's constantly, constantly pushing and working. And that's a big deal."

                  In the return game, the goal is to get 10 yards on each punt return and reach the 30-yard line on each kickoff return.

                  "We're averaging eight yards a (punt) return," McMahon said. "We need those extra 2 yards. We call it a first down — we want to give the offense a first down on punt returns."

                  On kickoff returns, McMahon would settle for an average drive start on the 25-yard line.

                  "A 25.5 drive start puts you in the top 10 (in the NFL) and gives your offense a start and a chance," he said. "We're getting too many balls stopped at the 20-yard line, at the 19, the 22 here and there."

                  Even with penalties wiping out a couple of long returns, the signing of Amendola two games into the season has brought the return game back to respectability.

                  In the two games before Amendola's arrival, the Rams' average drive start after kickoff returns was the 20. In his six games returning kickoffs, it's the 25-yard line.

                  "The biggest thing I think he's brought is the guys believe in him — they just do," said McMahon, the Rams' ninth special teams coach since the move to St. Louis in 1995. "They flat-out believe in him because he believes...
                  -11-11-2009, 08:20 AM
                • Nick
                  Was firing Bobby April a mistake?
                  by Nick
                  Look at what Buffalo is doing on special teams.

                  -They rank second in the league in average kick return yards.

                  -They have returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, most in the league.

                  -They're seventh in the league in average punt return yards.

                  -They have two punt return touchdowns, tied for best in the league.

                  -Opponents average only 19.0 yards returning kickoffs against them (third best in the league).

                  -Opponents average 8.1 yards returning punts on them (15th best in the league)

                  -They have not allowed one punt or kickoff touchdown.

                  In 2003, their numbers weren't nearly as convincing. While their coverage units were not drastically worse, their kick and punt returners and teams didn't gain the kind of numbers they are this year.

                  So the question is, is it all April or what? I remember many Ram fans from various places cursing his name, but it appears he's doing some good up north.
                  -12-25-2004, 10:05 PM
                • DJRamFan
                  Rodgers tops the nation in kickoff returns
                  by DJRamFan
                  TCU wide receiver is averaging 45.7 yards with two touchdowns

                  Sept. 25, 2005

                  INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- In the latest NCAA Division I-A statistics released today, TCU wide receiver Cory Rodgers tops the nation in kickoff return average at 45.7 yards.
                  A junior from Houston, Rodgers has two touchdowns this season. He went 100 yards in yesterday's 51-50 overtime win at BYU and 87 yards in a Sept. 10 contest at SMU.

                  Rodgers is the only Mountain West Conference player to return a kickoff for a score this season. He has two of the 10 kickoff returns for touchdowns in Division I-A.

                  Rodgers also tops the MWC and is seventh nationally in all-purpose yards at 168.5 per contest.

                  Rodgers was named The Walter Camp Foundation Division I-A National Offensive Player of the Week after scoring four touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving, one kickoff return) in yesterday's victory in Provo, Utah. He totaled nine receptions for 137 yards.

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