Rams To Place Greg Zuerlein On IR

The Rams endured a surprising setback Wednesday that will affect their top-flight special teams units. Greg Zuerlein will go on IR because of a back injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

He cannot return this season once placed on IR. Zuerlein’s back flared up during the Rams’ road win in Seattle, Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets.

The Rams will replace their kicker by signing Sam Ficken, Schefter reports. The former Penn State kicker has not attempted an NFL kick.

Zuerlein was just voted to his first Pro Bowl on Tuesday night. He leads the league with 38 made field goals and has missed just two attempts. The sixth-year kicker, and one half of the Rams’ Pro Bowl specialist duo along with punter Johnny Hekker, has also made 44 of his 46 extra point tries.

A sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western in 2012, the strong-legged kicker has missed just two games in his career. Zuerlein missed two contests for the 2015 Rams. He’s enjoyed his best season this year.

The six 50-plus-yard field goal makes — including a season-long of 56 — are the second-most of his career. He of two 58-yard field goals in college and two 60-yard makes in the NFL, the 29-year-old Zuerlein provided the suddenly explosive Los Angeles offense with a safety net once it ventured into field goal range.

Ficken went to camp with the Chiefs this summer and the Jaguars in 2016, being cut after both summers. He worked out for the Chargers earlier this season and will now be one of the more important kickers in the league, with the Rams having authored one of the better turnaround seasons in NFL history. As of now, Ficken — who has not kicked in a game since suiting up with the 2014 Nittany Lions — will be called upon come playoff time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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