Los Angeles Rams Place Kicker Greg Zuerlein on Injured Reserve

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Greg Zuerlein

Greg Zuerlein‘s been an underrated cornerstone of the Los Angeles Rams‘ resurgence in 2017. But his ability to contribute to a possible playoff run suffered a permanent blow this week.

The Rams announced Wednesday that they placed Zuerlein on injured reserve due to a herniated disc in his back. The news brings his season to a premature end, just one day after getting named to his first career Pro Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams Place Kicker Greg Zuerlein on Injured Reserve

Zuerlein, 29, was in the midst of his best season as a pro. His 38 field goals made and 95 percent conversion rate both lead the NFL and are also career highs. He’s also one of two kickers in the league, along with Wil Lutz of the New Orleans Saints, making at least 90 percent of his extra points among those who’ve converted at least 40.

The Rams signed Sam Ficken as Zuerlein’s replacement. Ficken was one of 10 players the team worked out on Wednesday in anticipation of losing their star kicker. His last stint with an NFL club came in the preseason with the Kansas City Chiefs before the team released him in trimming their roster down to 53 players.

Ficken played collegiately at Penn State, where he made a then school record 15 straight field goals as a junior. A year later, he knocked 24 through the uprights which remains an all-time single season high for the Nittany Lions. But he still has yet to kick in an NFL game. After going undrafted in 2015, he’s spent time with the Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars┬ábefore getting cut in the preseason.

The Rams hope to clinch their first playoff berth since 2004 in week 16 on the road against the Tennessee Titans. But they’ll have to go the rest of the way without their talismanic kicker known affectionately as “Legatron.” He’s earned that name in 2017, proving as automatic as any player in the league. His loss could prove problematic considering Ficken’s lack of NFL experience. Still, given the playmakers this team boasts on both sides of the football, they remain primed for postseason success.

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