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Webster embraces opportunity as Rams new punt returner

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – WR Nsimba Webster is the next Eastern Washington product hoping to make an impact on the Rams.

Los Angeles has been counting on another former Eagle, WR Cooper Kupp, as one of its reliable receivers over the last three seasons. Now, Webster has a chance to do the same on special teams as the next man up at punt returner in wake of JoJo Natson getting sidelined 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury.

"Just come in and excel on what JoJo was doing at a high rate," Webster said. "I definitely want to keep on with that same energy and add my little game to it."

One of three undrafted rookies to make the Rams' initial 53-man roster, Webster was signed from the practice squad to the active roster on Nov. 16 by the Rams. Though he was waived to make room for John Kelly on the active roster when Los Angeles' running back room dealt with injuries in mid-october, they still signed him to their practice squad two days later. The Rams made room for Webster on the active roster by waiving Kelly, then signing Kelly to the practice squad vacated by Webster two days later.

Webster led all Rams receivers with 15 catches for 150 yards and also saw action on special teams in the preseason. L.A. had 15 opportunities to return punts this season, and it distributed that work almost equally. Natson and WR Austin Proehl had five each, Webster had three and WR Alex Bachman two.

"It definitely helped," Webster said of the experience. "Had a few attempts and I felt comfortable at it."

Comfort might be an understatement.

Though Webster didn't have many opportunities, he was the most efficient, averaging a team-best 9.3 yards per return. He also averaged 23.3 yards on three kickoff returns.

"Nsimba was a guy that did a really nice job with that in the preseason," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "Consistently caught the ball and he's a guy that can do a really nice job creating after the catch, getting vertical immediately."

In college, Webster was primarily a kick returner through his first three seasons. He began returning punts his senior season and took back four for 73 total yards, including a 57-yarder for a touchdown.

"Getting reps here at practice and everything like that, having a past of being a punt returner, I'm not too surprised with it," Webster said.

Even while Natson was handling punt return duties, Webster would take mental reps and also discuss why some returns successful or what could've been done better on others, with the goal of being ready whenever his time may come.

That time is now.

"I try to tell myself, be patient, you don't want to rush things," Webster said. "I've always been humble, waiting on my turn, learning for the time being, and when the opportunity comes, don't be surprised, be ready and seize the moment."

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