The Rams will be without Greg Zuerlein for the rest of the season. Their Pro Bowl kicker, since placed on IR, will undergo back surgery on Thursday, Sean McVay said (via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com).
Zuerlein has been playing through a back injury all season, and McVay labeled it a herniated disk. The 29-year-old kicker aggravated the injury while sleeping the night before the Rams’ Week 15 game in Seattle. McVay said his kicker could barely stand on Sunday, and it affected his performance and Los Angeles’ game plan against the Seahawks.
Up next for Zuerlein will be a 12-week recovery timetable.
As for the replacement effort, Sam Ficken won quite the derby despite having no NFL kicking experience. A 2015 UDFA out of Penn State, Ficken took part in a 10-man kicker audition on Wednesday.
Veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer reports (on Twitter) the Rams worked out Roberto Aguayo, Dan Carpenter, Travis Coons, Andrew Franks, Garrett Hartley, Marshall Koehn, Younghoe Koo, Mike Meyer and Jason Myers. Two long snappers — Jeff Overbaugh and Drew Farris — and two punters-as-holders (Matt Wile and Austin Rehkow) were also on hand for this unique specialty showcase, per Balzer (on Twitter).
Carpenter and Hartley have extensive NFL experience — a combined 16 seasons’ worth — while Aguayo was selected in the second round only to become a workout journeyman by his second year. He auditioned for the Browns earlier this week and also could not procure the Rams’ kicker job, one that will feature playoff opportunities. Hartley has not kicked in a game since 2014, and Carpenter hasn’t kicked this season.
The Chargers cut Coons earlier this week, but he’s been in Los Angeles for a few weeks now after being the initial Nick Novak replacement for the Bolts. Myers hasn’t kicked since losing his Jaguars job to ex-Charger Josh Lambo, and Franks — a former Dolphin — hasn’t suited up for a 2017 contest either.