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Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

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  • Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

    Danny Amendola is latest return man for St. Louis Rams

    By jim thomas

    Take a number, Danny Amendola. You're the next in line. And actually, that number is 33.

    Since the dynamic Tony Horne returned his last kickoff for St. Louis in 2000, the Rams have had no less than 32 players return at least one kickoff. We're talking bona fide return men only, not wedge blockers, etc., who may have fielded a short kick.

    Amendola, signed off the Philadelphia practice squad Tuesday, will be No. 33. The Rams signed him to the active roster to fill the role of the man he replaced, return man/wide receiver Derek Stanley. On Wednesday, coach Steve Spagnuolo wouldn't flat-out confirm that Amendola would return punts and kickoffs in the home opener against Green Bay.

    "It just depends on how quickly we can get him oiled up," Spagnuolo said.

    But it's not like there's an extensive playbook to learn for a return man. So it will be a surprise if he isn't in action Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "It's an opportunity that they say everybody gets once in their life," said Amendola, who wears jersey No. 16 and has been assigned Dane Looker's old locker stall. "I'm going to try to make the most of it. Try to run with it. Try to make some plays, and try to help the Rams get better."

    When it comes to returning punts and kickoffs it's hard to imagine things getting any worse. Particularly on kickoffs, the bar hasn't been set high in St. Louis for most of this decade.

    Since Horne's departure, the Rams have allowed 11 kickoff returns for touchdowns, while scoring only one themselves. (A 99-yarder by Chris Johnson in 2005.)

    Check out this partial list of returnees since Horne's departure: an aging Dante Hall; a pair of Harrises — Kay-Jay and Arlen; St. Louisan Brandon Williams; Southeast Missouri State product Willie Ponder; Trung Canidate; and a rookie named Steven Jackson (in 2004).

    You want highlights? Fans yelled "Yo!" every time Yo Murphy returned one in 2001 and '02. In 2005, the aforementioned Johnson stepped out of bounds at the 1 on the season-opening kickoff against San Francisco at Candlestick Park. (Mike Martz threw out the challenge flag on that one, exactly 1 second into the season. And lost.)

    And then there was Terrence Wilkins, whose signature moment was being spotted at halftime of an '02 game buying a hotdog at a dome concession stand. (He was in street clothes as pregame inactive that day.)

    In 2007, when Hall briefly flashed his vintage form, the Rams finished ninth in the NFL in kickoff returns. But that was merely an oasis in an otherwise barren landscape. In every other year this decade — post-Horne — the Rams finished no higher than 15th and as low as 31st in kickoff returns.

    Punt returns have been slightly better over that span, but like they have with Horne, the Rams have been trying to find a replacement for the electric Az-Zahir Hakim (fumbles and all) since Hakim departed after the '01 season. The Rams have scored only two TDs on punt returns in the seven-plus seasons since Hakim's departure; they've yielded six punt returns for scores over that span.

    Echoing a theme trumpeted frequently by Spagnuolo, new special teams coordinator Tom McMahon says he isn't worried about what happened in the past.

    "If you wanted to change yesterday, you should've done it then," McMahon said in an interview with the Post-Dispatch at the start of training camp. "So I don't look back. What's in this building, I like, and the guys are going to work hard and they're going to play hard."

    When asked about his philosophy and goals in the return game, McMahon said, "We want to make vertical cuts. We don't want returners that are going to make lateral cuts and get wide across the field and try to make a touchdown every single time. We need a 10-yard punt return, and we need a 30-yard kick return."

    Stanley actually averaged 12.3 yards per punt return, albeit on only three returns. Surprisingly, he was not given an opportunity to return kickoffs in the Rams' first two games. Surprising because his career average — based on 45 returns in '07 and '08 — was 25.1 yards per return. That's an average that will put you in or near the top 10 in the NFL most years.

    "We were both shocked," Stanley's agent, Kevin Van Ry, told the Post-Dispatch, speaking of Stanley's release. Although Detroit had expressed some interest in claiming Stanley, he went unclaimed when the 24-hour waiver period expired Wednesday afternoon.

    In any event, the Rams went with Donnie Avery and Samkon Gado in the opener on kickoff returns and used Kenneth Darby this past Sunday against Washington. Avery fumbled away the season-opening kickoff in Seattle. After two games, the team's average is 16.2 yards per kickoff return, little more than half of McMahon's target of 30 yards per return.

    Entering the Green Bay game, the Rams are tied for 24th in kickoff returns and tied for 14th in punt returns. So can Amendola, undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2008 despite putting up big numbers as a receiver, ride to the rescue in St. Louis?

    "All I can really say is I'm excited, and I'm ready to go," he said.

  • #2
    Re: Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

    Well, hope all goes good with Amendola..Field position could be a major game changer.
    Last edited by unorthodox1999; -09-23-2009, 09:53 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

      i wish this kid the best..he is what actually has me excited this week. i want to see him return kicks


      • #4
        Re: Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

        Hmm hopefully let's make him return a lot of punts, not kicks. The more kickoff returns, the more mad I'll be. ;)


        • #5
          Re: Danny Amendola Is Latest Return Man For St. Louis Rams

          Hopefully he can start us out with good field position for the year.............


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          • FestusRam
            Return guy?
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            Anyone have any idea who our return guy will be now that Gilyard was cut.

            He returned just about everything in the preseason so who will take his place? Will Amendola keep the job from last season? I haven't even seen Norwood return anything so I have no idea what their plans are with him, besides 3RB ofcourse.
            -09-04-2011, 12:06 PM
          • 01d 0rd3r
            Amendolla pinballs into the record books.
            by 01d 0rd3r
            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            The Rams were just two games into the season and they found themselves banged up at receiver and looking for someone to inject life into a sagging return game.

            In Danny Amendola, they hoped to find an answer for at least one of those questions. What they might not have expected was a cure for the ailing return unit and a surprise contributor to the offense. In Amendola, they found both.

            “Danny has been great,” special teams coach Tom McMahon said. “Danny has toughness, and that’s the biggest quality that I see in him. And, he’s a pro, he always spends extra time, and the guys see that, and they block harder for him. When you’ve got a guy who is putting in extra time, the other guys perform harder.”

            Since signing with the team on Sept. 22, Amendola has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2009 season. For a team that has repeatedly gone to the well in search of someone who can stick, Amendola has perhaps been the most consistent contributor to the team on a weekly basis.

            “Personally, I was just trying to come in and fill a role and do what I do to help the team in any which way,” Amendola said. “It’s been fun getting in there.”

            Upon his signing, Amendola’s foremost job was to help on special teams where he was immediately plugged in as the starting kickoff and punt returner.

            After bouncing around some from Philadelphia’s practice squad this season and the same role in Dallas the year before, Amendola made his NFL regular season debut on Sept. 27 against Green Bay.

            Amendola went right to work, returning eight kickoffs in his debut for 187 yards. The eight returns were tied for the most in franchise history. He also returned a pair of punts for 23 yards. All in all, not a bad first day of work.

            Since, Amendola has made a statement about his ability to return kicks in the NFL. IN last week’s game against Houston, Amendola five kicks for 159 yards. In the process, he set the Rams season mark for return yards at 1,435 yards. That bests the previous mark of 1,379 yards held by Tony Horne from 2000.

            This week, four kick returns for Amendola would push him past Drew Hill for the most returns in a season by a Ram.

            Impressive numbers sure, but ones that Amendola doesn’t spend much time worrying about.

            “I didn’t even know that,” Amendola said. “That’s great I guess. At the end of the day, I just want to get more wins. That’s all I can really say.”

            The always humble Amendola joins some pretty impressive company among players that have held the return duties in Rams history. Although the past few years haven’t provided much in the way of spark in the return game, there is a long line of guys who have done it and done it well in team history.

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            -12-24-2009, 06:21 PM
          • MauiRam
            Rams' special teams are making strides ..
            by MauiRam
            BY JIM THOMAS

            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
          • r8rh8rmike
            Amendola Gives Rams Return On Investment
            by r8rh8rmike
            Amendola gives Rams return on investment
            BY BILL COATS

            When he wakes up on Mondays now, Danny Amendola is sore all over. That's a good thing, he explained, because it means he's playing football on Sundays.

            "It feels good to be beat up again," Amendola said. "It's been a year and a half."

            The Rams signed the 5-foot-11, 183-pound Amendola off Philadelphia's practice squad Sept. 22 and immediately assigned him to return punts and kicks. Because of injuries to the corps of wideouts, he has also been thrust into the mix on offense.

            "It's baptism by fire, because we had to get him some wide receiver reps in just his second game," coach Steve Spagnuolo noted. "But he's a pretty sharp guy."

            Amendola had one reception for 8 yards at San Francisco, followed by a five-catch, 43-yard outing last week vs. Minnesota. He's averaging 7.6 yards on five punt returns and 22.4 yards on 18 kickoff returns.

            Asked whether he preferred catching or returning, Amendola, 23, said, "I like being on the field in any way possible. Whatever way it is, hopefully I can make some plays in both areas."

            Until the Rams grabbed him, Amendola hadn't seen game action since Jan. 1, 2008, when he helped Texas Tech to a 31-28 Gator Bowl victory over Virginia at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium — site of the Rams' game Sunday against the Jaguars.

            As a senior, Amendola hauled in 103 passes — the fourth-highest total in the nation — for 1,177 yards and five touchdowns. But like fellow Red Raiders wideout and former teammate Wes Welker, Amendola was passed over in the draft.

            Dallas brought him in as a rookie free agent, and he spent the season on the practice squad. The Eagles signed him last January.

            With the Rams, Amendola finally is getting an opportunity to show his stuff in the regular season. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Amendola "has done a nice job for us. He's quick, he finds a way to separate, he can run real well, and he's a tough guy. We feel good about him."

            INJURY UPDATES

            Safety James Butler (knee) and wide receiver Ruvell Martin (hamstring) were listed as doubtful Friday on the final injury report of the week, meaning they're unlikely to suit up Sunday. Safety Anthony Smith (Achilles tendon) was questionable. Quarterback Kyle Boller (concussion) and defensive ends Leonard Little (illness) and C.J. Ah You (illness) were probable.


            Spagnuolo said that Adam Goldberg would start again at right tackle but that rookie Jason Smith "is going to see some playing time." Smith, who suffered a knee injury late in the first half Sept. 20 at Washington, got in for two snaps on special teams last Sunday.

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          • MauiRam
            Amendola Providing Happy Returns ..
            by MauiRam
            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            In their long search to find a solid kick and punt returner capable of improving field position, the Rams hoped to overturn a diamond in the rough when they signed Danny Amendola from Philadelphia’s practice squad on Sept. 22.

            The Rams wasted no time in throwing Amendola into the fire, placing him on the field after just three practices as a Ram. Not only did Amendola immediately handle the punt and kick return duties but he also got thrown right into the mix at receiver in his second game.

            And so far, at least, Amendola has been everything the Rams had hoped.

            “It's baptism by fire, because we had to get him some wide receiver reps in just his second game,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “But he's a pretty sharp guy.”

            Indeed, Amendola has picked up the system with little trouble. Although that was expected because he came from a system in Philadelphia that is nearly identical to the Rams’, Amendola’s production has still been a bit of a pleasant surprise.

            After catching one pass for 8 yards in his first two weeks, Amendola has posted 13 catches for 103 yards in the past three weeks and has proved to be a reliable target for quarterback Marc Bulger on third down and an adept runner after the catch with his penchant for taking quick screens and gaining extra yards after the reception.

            “Yeah, that’s what I set out to do. In every situation I have been in, I have tried to make the most of my opportunities wherever I go,” Amendola said. “It’s progressing. I think I have improved in a lot of areas. I am excited.”

            Of course, Amendola’s production as a slot receiver could simply be viewed as an added bonus to the boost he’s given to the team’s previously lacking return game.

            Amendola is averaging 24.3 yards per kick return on 29 attempts with a long of 58. He also had a long return brought back by penalty in San Francisco. And on eight punt returns, he is getting 8.1 yards per try.

            “There’s a lot coach (Tom) McMahon has helped me learn about setting up blocks and stuff, especially on kickoff return,” Amendola said. “That’s a big reason we have been successful. I have learned a lot since I got here.”

            Amendola is likely to continue to figure more prominently in the passing game each week and will certainly continue to get opportunities as the returner.

            “I always have something to prove,” Amendola said. “I think there will be some long returns to come and I am looking forward to them. We are just on the brink of breaking one so it will be nice when it happens.”

            IN A SNAP: Speaking of special teams, this week will be the first time in eight years the Rams have had someone other than Chris Massey enter the game as a long snapper.

            Massey suffered a season-ending ACL injury against the Colts last week and the Rams...
            -10-31-2009, 12:44 PM