Don Bracken averaged 38 yards per punt the last season he played--which was 1990 with the Green Bay Packers--and he survived a Ram training camp battle with incumbent Barry Helton and free agent Steven Domingos more because of steady mediocrity than a strong leg.
Bracken, a seven-year veteran, had only five punts for 166 yards in two exhibition games (a 33-yard average), but he was the only punter on the roster opening day. And so far, it appears the Rams made all the right moves.
Bracken punted six times and averaged 43 yards in the opener against Buffalo. Sunday against New England, he had seven punts and a whopping 48-yard average.
"Bracken was the special teams player of the game," Coach Chuck Knox said. "His punting really helped as far as field position and helped a lot as far as our defensive team being able to go out on the field and have that long field to defend.
"We had a net average over 40 yards and he also had two pooch kicks, one which was downed inside the 10 and the other inside the 15."
The Rams ended an 11-game losing streak Sunday, but their passing attack was hardly reminiscent of the glory days. Quarterback Jim Everett, who threw for more than 300 yards three times and more than 400 once in 1989, completed only 10 of 22 passes for 130 yards against New England.
"The passing game is just out of sync," Knox said. "Sometimes we don't make the right decisions as far as throwing the football. Other times, we throw the ball to a receiver and he drops it. Other times, the guy we want to throw the ball to . . . he falls down.
"That puts a burden on the quarterback, too. Those are the things I'm talking about and you just can't get the rhythm right."
Thanks to the victory over the Patriots, Knox was able to watch "Monday Night Football" and scout the Miami Dolphins, the Rams' opponent Sunday, in a relaxed atmosphere.
"Watching 'Monday Night Football' is always a little more pleasurable if you've won on Sunday," he said. "That's one thing about this business, the only thing that really helps. If you win, it makes living the next week somewhat enjoyable. Otherwise, it's just murder.
"Regardless of whether you develop a blind spot to black out everything around you and have a fine focus on what you're trying to do, well, it's easy to say it, but it's sometimes tough for people to do."