Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Top of Their Game : Kennison Is Running Away from Field

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Top of Their Game : Kennison Is Running Away from Field

Article excerpt

Rams coach Rich Brooks was asked Monday if Eddie Kennison was developing into a special punt returner.

"What do you think?" Brooks said. "He already has."

It's hard to argue with that sentiment. Kennison has led the National Football League in punt returns since Game 4, when he returned four kicks for 128 yards against Arizona. Included was a 66-yard touchdown. But just how good was he? That was difficult to gauge, because Kennison went nearly the entire month of October without returning a punt. He had one fair catch - no returns - on Oct. 6 against San Francisco. Ditto for the Oct. 13 game in Carolina. And on Oct. 20 in the Trans World Dome, Jacksonville didn't punt. Not once. Through seven games, Kennison had returned only nine punts. But the following weekend in Baltimore, Kennison returned a Greg Montgomery punt 47 yards. Sunday against Atlanta, he took a Dan Stryzinski punt 78 yards for the game's first TD in the Rams' 59-16 victory. With six games to play, Kennison's league-leading average is 19.0 yards a punt. Eight of his 18 punt returns this season have gone for 18 or more yards - four for 40 or more yards. "Our problem is we haven't been able to get people to punt to us enough," Brooks said. "Otherwise, you might have seen a lot more of it. The thing we've improved on is (the blocking) around him. Those guys get a little more excited about running 30, 40 yards downfield and trying to make a block when they know there's a guy back there like Eddie who can take it to the house. "That's an exciting thing. People ought to have pretty good anticipation when we force somebody to punt, because there's always the opportunity of having an exciting play." Kennison, a rookie from Louisiana State, leads his closest pursuer, Amani Toomer of the New York Giants, by a healthy 2.4 yards a return. He has a legitimate chance to become the Rams' first NFL punt return champion since Henry Ellard in 1983. …

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