Rams punter Hekker coming off big week

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012
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Hekker had 52 punts of 50 or more yards in four years as the starting punter at Oregon State, and set a school record with a 52.5-yard average on six punts at Utah last season.

He's doing even better at the next level up with a season average of 49.5 yards, fifth best in the league, and a net of 41.2 yards that's 10th best. The Rams prized his directional punting skills out of college, the better to avoid some of the league's best return men, and against Arizona he twice avoided Patrick Peterson with efforts of 68 and 57 yards that bounced out of bounds.

On the punts that he hasn't been able to put into the corners, Hekker hasn't been afraid to mix it up. Running downfield after one punt that Peterson returned for 18 yards, the 227-pound punter sent the Cardinals' Justin Bethel sprawling with a push.

The hit landed Hekker's name on the Rams' "big board" for knockdowns, tackles and lockdowns.

"That's a legal play, get rid of the guys trying to block our guys," Hekker said. "He would have knocked one of our guys down if he had a chance, so I had to get him first."

Hekker added: "I talked to him after the game to make sure he was OK."

The Rams don't seem to mind the youthful exuberance. Attention to detail, too, from what he's absorbed in the meeting room.

"Like somebody said about him, he's a free spirit and he feels like he's a part of the cover teams," Fassel said. "So, he sees us in there talking about them, coaching some things for the cover guys and he must've thought I was also talking to him. I really wasn't, but at least he's paying attention in the meetings."

Notes: FB Brit Miller (ankle) was a full practice participant after being held out Wednesday. DE Eugene Sims (head) and DT Matt Conrath also were full go after being limited a day earlier, but DE William Hayes (back) did not practice after being limited Wednesday.

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