Johnny Hekker is punting with a new deal, and a new spin.
The Rams punter, ranked first in the NFL in punting yards the last two seasons, spent the last year perfecting a technique introduced to him by Australian Nick Porebski, who punts for Hekkers’ alma mater, Oregon State.
“Nick said, ‘Check out this kick, mate,’” Hekker recalled. “And it was amazing.”
Porebski taught Hekker to hold the ball perpendicular over his foot, instead of parallel, to create a sideways spin in the air.
“It’s really effective, as far as being able to kind of show you’re going one way and then getting it to curve and go the other way,” Hekker said.
Hekker, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, tested the technique during the preseason before he booted a 38-yard punt in the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The punt went out of bounds at the Colts’ seven-yard line — and it also went viral on Twitter.
“It was a fun one,” Hekker said, adding that he wouldn’t hesitate to attempt the kick again if the situation called for it. “I also like to just boom it, hit it the regular way.”
The Rams signed Hekker to a two-year contract extension through the 2022 season. The two-year extension includes $10 million in guarantees, according to several reports.
“I didn’t know that we were close on getting more years added on to that deal,” Hekker said, adding, “It was a deal where I was patient with it, I was very happy with the situation I was in, but to get the numbers bumped up is great.”
Said coach Sean McVay: “He’s a special person, he’s a special player, he’s been very productive, an all-pro player the last couple years and then what he brings to the locker room matches up with the production you see on the field.”
Teammates voted Hekker among six team captains this season.
Last Sunday, Hekker punted five times in a 46-9 victory over the Colts. All of his punts were inside the 20-yard line.