Tutu Atwell plans to return punts for the Rams this season

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Rams rookie Tutu Atwell is expected to come in and compete for snaps at wide receiver as one of the team’s deep threats. He can also turn short passes into big gains and make plays with the ball in his hands no matter where he is on the field, making him an intriguing player for Sean McVay to deploy on offense.

But it sounds like he’ll do more than just catch passes. He plans to return punts as a rookie, which isn’t something he did much of in college. Atwell returned four punts for 84 yards at Louisville and never attempted a kickoff return.

During Wednesday’s media session, Atwell told reporters that he’ll “play punt return” this year, which is a big deal for the rookie.

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Atwell is only 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, but he’s a shifty player with elite speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds, making him one of the fastest players in the entire 2021 draft class.

The Rams are in search of punt return help after getting less-than-stellar results from Nsimba Webster the last few seasons, and Atwell will hopefully provide a spark to a unit that’s underwhelmed since Pharoh Cooper’s reign.

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Atwell should see some competition for the job, potentially from Webster, DeSean Jackson and undrafted rookies Landen Akers and Jeremiah Haydel. He won’t be handed the job, but if he can field punts cleanly and make defenders miss, it’ll be hard to keep him off the field.