Amid the chaos of the Cam Akers information on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams launched kick return specialist Nsimba Webster solely every week earlier than coaching camp. Webster, an undrafted free agent from Japanese Washington in 2019, had been a gradual presence on the Rams’ return models during the last couple seasons and so this solely confirms the notion that Sean McVay is on the lookout for a brand new participant in that function.
Transaction: Rams waived Nsimba Webster.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) July 20, 2021
Los Angeles has been targeted this offseason on bettering within the kicking sport after ending among the many worst within the NFL in that class in 2020. Following the disappointing outcomes, the Rams demoted John Bonamego from particular groups coordinator to a senior assistant function and changed him with Joe DeCamillis, who had beforehand held that function with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
DeCamillis is very regarded for his means to develop explosive return specialists. Who’re his present choices at kick and punt returner when the staff begins coaching camp subsequent week at UC Irvine?
The Rams drafted Tutu Atwell out of Louisville within the second spherical of the 2021 NFL draft. Atwell is likely one of the quickest gamers on the staff, reportedly working a 4.39 40-yard sprint at his professional day. McVay was reportedly “pleased” with Atwell’s early work dealing with punt return duties throughout OTAs.
Though Atwell is considered a gifted athlete, he’s additionally considerably undersized by NFL requirements: 5’9, 155 lbs. And although Atwell might show to be serviceable on punt returns for Los Angeles this season, his small body might maintain him out of consideration because the staff’s kick returner. The rookie hopes to win the belief of coaches and contribute wherever he can. As Kenneth Arthur famous final month, Atwell has proven in the past that he can learn a skill quickly and translate these skills to the sphere instantly.
He’s the participant most individuals in all probability need to see on punt returns in Week 1 and with out Webster in the best way, it’s doable we might see that.
The veteran out of California is coming into his 14th NFL season and he has been restricted by accidents in recent times. In the course of the 2020 season the speedster solely appeared in 5 contests with the Philadelphia Eagles and he had one punt return for 2 yards.
The Rams is perhaps planning to rotate Jackson with Atwell on each offense and particular groups as a result of the 2 gamers are very related by way of measurement and athletic profiles. Atwell’s contributions might assist maintain the veteran over the course of a full season and Jackson could possibly deal with spot duties within the return sport, particularly in high-leverage conditions. He has a historical past of spectacular playmaking means:
Whereas Atwell and Jackson are anticipated to be the principle contributors on punt returns, the Rams might have a bigger physique to deal with the extra bodily demanding kick return duties and Calais spelled Webster on this function at occasions final season. The second 12 months working again has potential as a playmaker, evident by this 41-yard return final season in opposition to the New York Giants and this 101-yard kick return on the NFLPA Bowl final January:
The Rams have a historical past of tasking reserve working backs with kick return duties, as veteran Malcom Brown was a dependable contributor throughout his six season with Los Angeles. Calais can be anticipated to compete for playing time on offense because the staff appears to switch inured Cam Akers, so his function on returns could also be altered barely if he seems to be a dynamic participant out of the backfield.
Profitable groups make investments assets and play effectively on particular groups. In the course of the Rams’ final Super Bowl season in 2018, Pharoh Cooper was a dynamic returner and named to the NFL Pro Bowl that 12 months. Los Angeles hopes the hiring of DeCamillis as particular groups coordinator and a possible improve over Webster at returner helps spark enhancements within the kicking sport. With coaching camp approaching subsequent week, this can be a place battle price watching intently.
Who must be the subsequent participant up for kick and punt returns?