Notebook: Rams P Johnny Hekker would be happy with quiet Super Bowl
Johnny Hekker has been part of the Rams’ organization for 10 seasons, the first four when the franchise was housed in St. Louis before moving to Los Angeles.
But six months ago, the four-time Pro Bowl punter was a bit concerned over whether he would remain a member of the Rams. He was sidelined due to COVID-19 and was mighty concerned when his competition, Corey Bojorquez, boomed a 67-yard punt in a late August preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
“I was at home with COVID watching the preseason game from Denver and I felt my heart sink and thought he might have solidified the job for him,” Hekker said. “I turned off the game at halftime. I’ll say that now.”
The concern proved to be for naught. Hekker ended up keeping the job when the Rams dealt Bojorquez to the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 31.
Hekker will punt in his second Super Bowl when the Rams face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He averaged 46.3 yards on nine punts during a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl.
The 32-year-old will be happy if he’s not so busy this time around.
“It’s a joy to sit there and watch,” Hekker said. “I really relish those games with one or two punts and watching our offense go up and down the field and score points.”
Hekker also said his arm is ready if needed. He has completed 14 of 23 fake-punt throws — including one for a touchdown — in the regular season and he is 1 for 1 in the postseason.
When it was pointed out his long completion is 23 yards, Hekker said, “I fancy myself as a good deep ball thrower so I need to pump that up.”
–Rams coach Sean McVay couldn’t resist poking fun when a reporter asked what the feeling was like when he was on the losing side in the 2018 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
“You’re the first person to ask me this the whole entire week,” McVay cracked. “Not really.”
McVay has been asked about the situation each day and he has continued to accept responsibility for not functioning at his best in the 13-3 loss to the Patriots.
“That was a very humbling, hard night,” McVay said. “When you feel as a coach that you didn’t pull your weight, that’s a hard thing.
“That memory will always stick with me. It bothers me but some of the worst things that happen to you can turn into one of your better blessings. It gives you an appreciation for how hard it is to finish this game.”
–The Rams practiced at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Thursday due to high winds at their practice site in Thousand Oaks. It was an approximate 45-mile drive each way.
The iconic stadium proved to be a good place for quarterback Matthew Stafford. McVay said the 13-year veteran had a top-notch practice.
“That’s what we wanted,” McVay said. “What kind of game it ends up being will dictate exactly what plays that we will run. But he did a great job, found a lot of completions, got a lot of guys involved. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Stafford has guided the Rams to three wins this postseason after being 0-3 in the playoffs during 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions.
–Los Angeles tight end Tyler Higbee (knee) didn’t practice Thursday and his availability for Sunday remains undetermined. Higbee was injured in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 30.
Offensive lineman Joe Noteboom (chest) was a limited practice participant. His status also is up in the air.
Running back Cam Akers (shoulder) was a full participant and he is expected to start Sunday.
–Field Level Media