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For Rams, punter Hekker doing less but loving it more

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

LOS ANGELES--He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection coming off a record-setting season that helped him become the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL.

And yet, on a team that has surprisingly started 6-2, Rams punter Johnny Hekker can barely get onto the field to ply his trade.

"I love it," he said Thursday.

With the Rams offense in high gear under first-year coach Sean McVay, Hekker's opportunities have decreased dramatically.

Last season, Hekker punted 43 times in the first eight games, 55 in final eight. He averaged 47.8 yards a kick.

This season, he has only 27 punts and is averaging 47.1 yards a kick.

Hekker has been most active as the holder for place-kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has made 24 of 25 field goals and leads the NFL with 99 points.

"I'm really excited to hold for field goals and PATs and cheering on the offense -- they're rolling right now," said Hekker, who in September signed an extension that includes $10 million in guarantees. "And I'm having a lot of fun in that role.

"I'm staying ready, and when my number's called I hopefully can still go in there and have good impact on field position."

Hekker is in his sixth NFL season after signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent from Oregon State.

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