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Despite Continued Success, Hekker Challenging Himself to Be Better in 2018

Four Pro Bowl appearances and four first-team All-Pro designations in the last five years. Second on the NFL's average yards per punt list all-time with a 47.1-yard average. Over 80 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line within the last two seasons combined.

With numbers and accolades like these, it's easy to see why Rams punter Johnny Hekker is widely considered one of the best in the league. It's difficult to imagine, however, what Hekker would need to work at to better his skills in 2018.

If you ask Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel, he would say Hekker's approach is less about getting better and more about bringing new kicks to the table.

"He experiments with new types of punts and this is what we do during the offseason," Fassel said. "And then he kind of narrows it down to a couple that he really likes."

As Fassel said, the Oregon State product uses the offseason to work on "basic punts that are true to every game," but also works to develop other kicks that are unique to him alone. The difference in punts is based on several criteria including distance, direction, and hang time.

"Those three are a challenge to put all of them together with the different types of kicks he has, so there's plenty of them to work on," Fassel explained. "He doesn't just go out there and hit a punt right and a punt left and call it a day. He's pretty unique with what he attempts and gets pretty darn good at."

Last season, Hekker specifically worked on a long distance kick to his left. As he looks towards 2018, Fassel said the punter is hoping to improve upon his accuracy in both directions.

Check out behind-the-scenes photos from the Rams Media Day.

And while most would already compliment Hekker's production, Fassel said the veteran is his own harshest critic — constantly looking for new areas to develop and become better.

"He's working on a few things for this coming season that we think he can get better at compared to the last couple of years," Fassel said.  "So he recognizes that there's still a lot of room for him to get better, which I know might sound crazy if you're coaching him, but when you see the tape he's like 'Oh, man, gosh — I wish I could have two or three of those back in that game.'"