Rams' Cory Littleton, the NFL's punt-blocking master

Cory Littleton's blocked punt against the 49ers was his second of the season and fourth since the start of 2017. Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- There's the boom, the thud, followed by the cheers.

It's the soundtrack of a blocked punt, a tune the players on the Los Angeles Rams punt coverage team have grown accustomed to hearing, and one they said will never grow old.

The Rams have blocked five punts since the start of last season. No other team in the NFL has blocked more than two.

And four of the Rams' blocks have been made by Cory Littleton.

"He just does it man," running back Malcolm Brown said. "I mean, I ain't ever seen nothing like it."

Last Sunday in a lopsided victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Littleton bolted past the long-snapper and laid out his 6-foot-3, 228-pound frame to block a punt that bounced out the back of the end zone and resulted in a safety.

It was Littleton's second blocked punt this season.

"You never know, but you always expect it," Littleton said, when asked if he anticipated that he would get to the ball. "I mean one thing we do, we live and die by the sword. If I miss a block and I hit the punter and we get a penalty, it sucks. But if I block it, it's all good."

And for Littleton and the Rams' special teams unit, it's been all good.

"Cory has elite get-off," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "He's just got a great feel for it. Certain players have a knack for certain things, and I think we've seen Cory consistently show up."

An undrafted free agent from the University of Washington in 2016, Littleton played mostly for special-teams coordinator John Fassel his first two seasons before coaches moved him into the starting lineup at inside linebacker this year. Through seven games, he has a team-high 58 tackles and eight pass deflections, as well as an interception.

"He's a playmaker, man," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "He's a playmaker."

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Littleton has played as well as any linebacker in the NFL in defending the run and the pass.

"He's way ahead of everybody in the league as far as pass coverage," Phillips said. "And obviously, he's playing well against the run and he's having a really good year."

But it's Littleton's knack for blocking punts that continues to draw attention, given that he alone has two more blocked punts in two seasons than any team in the league.

"This past game, he dang near jumped from like 5 yards back," Brown said. "So he's comfortable with it and knows exactly what to do."

Last season, in 10-point victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Littleton charged up the middle to block a punt that Brown returned 8 yards for a touchdown.

Three weeks later, Littleton burst through the protection again and laid out for a block in a blowout victory over the New York Giants. Running back Todd Gurley II scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession.

And this season, despite playing more than 90 percent of the snaps on defense, Littleton hasn't let up on special teams.

Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Littleton flew past the long-snapper to block a punt, and Blake Countess recovered the ball for a touchdown.

"Most of punt teams' protections, we figure out how to get Cory one-on-one with the long-snapper," receiver Josh Reynolds said. "And you know, I'm not knocking any long-snappers, but they're not as athletic as other positions on the field, so it's definitely a mismatch."

Littleton is hesitant to discuss his punt-blocking ability, fearful that opponents will soon catch on to Fassel and his scheming secrets.

"I've got a good special-teams coach," Littleton said. "And he puts me in situations where I have an opportunity, and I make the most of it."

But when asked how Littleton so often was able to break free, teammates shook their head, almost confused as they discussed it aloud about how opponents continued to let Littleton get away.

"I think, why don't teams block this man," Brown said. "But like I said, it just happens, and now it's almost kind of regular."