And the star injuries keep mounting up. Greg Zuerlein, a Rams Pro Bowler and one of the best kickers in the league, has been placed on Injured Reserve and is out for the season with a herniated disc in his back.
Legatron ranks first in the NFL in field goals made with 38 successful out of 40 attempts, and has hit on 44 of 46 extra point attempts. He’s only missed once inside of 50 yards, and leads the NFL in points scored with 158. (The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski, in second, is more than 20 points behind.) So, yes, this is a pretty significant loss for Los Angeles.
The Rams signed former Penn State kicker Sam Ficken to replace Zuerlein, a move that might make Big Ten fans cringe—and not just because Ficken has never kicked in an NFL regular-season game. Ficken is best known for owning one of the most horrendous starts possible to a kicking career, missing seven of his first 11 attempts in the 2012 season. Lowlights included a miss from the one yard line against Illinois, and a cringeworthy four missed out of five attempts in a one-point loss to Virginia.
Ficken and the Rams won’t exactly get the luxury of a slow start, given that the playoffs are mere weeks away and the Rams are unlikely to earn a first-round bye. But there is good news: Ficken finished that horrendous 2012 season making ten straight field goals. The Rams hope that’s the Ficken who shows up.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.