Rams switch kickers while waiting for Greg Zuerlein’s return
The Rams are a Super Bowl favorite, but they recognize their vulnerabilities.
They moved to address one Tuesday by releasing backup kicker Sam Ficken and signing veteran Cairo Santos.
Santos, 26, made 90 of 107 field-goal attempts during three-plus seasons with Kansas City and part of last season with Chicago. He was released by the New York Jets during training camp.
The Rams also worked out former UCLA kicker Kai Forbath, who was cut by Minnesota in August.
The Rams’ kicking carousel began after Greg Zuerlein, the NFL’s leading scorer last season, suffered a groin injury during warmups in Week 2. Coach Sean McVay said Monday that there’s “a possibility” that Zuerlein would be available for Sunday’s game in Seattle. The Rams were off Tuesday, so McVay did not speak to reporters. Santos presumably was signed in case Zuerlein needs more time.
Ficken’s second stint with the Rams did not go as well as the first.
Last season the Rams signed Ficken after Zuerlein suffered a Week 15 back injury that required season-ending surgery. Ficken proved mostly reliable: He made two of three field-goal attempts as the Rams won the NFC West and advanced to the playoffs before losing to Atlanta.
The Rams re-signed Ficken after the season as a precaution in case Zuerlein suffered a setback in his recovery. Ficken was released at the end of training camp because Zuerlein appeared fully recovered; Zuerlein kicked four field goals in a season-opening victory at Oakland. When Zuerlein went down again, the Rams immediately called Ficken and signed him before their Week 3 game against the Chargers.
Ficken got off to a shaky start, missing a 46-yard field goal and also shanking a kickoff out of bounds. In Thursday’s 38-31 victory over Minnesota, Ficken made a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter but missed a 28-yard attempt in the fourth that would have increased the lead to 41-28. The Vikings then drove for a field goal that pulled them to within seven points with 3 minutes 46 seconds left.
“When we get a chance to go up 13 in a game that’s been back and forth, those are plays that we have to be able to make, and make them consistently,” McVay said Friday.
The Rams had a good time on their last trip to Seattle. They dismantled the Seahawks, and shifted the power in the NFC West, with a 42-7 rout that silenced the famous “12th Man” crowd at CenturyLink Field.
“We didn’t want to let up,” running back Todd Gurley said after the game. “These guys have been kicking our ass for the last 10, 15 years so you got to enjoy it.”
The Rams have mostly been riding high since that victory, which helped them win the division, advance to the postseason for the first time since 2004 and lay the groundwork for this season’s confidence and fast start.
The Rams, at 4-0, are the NFC’s only unbeaten team.
Gurley led the way last year at Seattle, rushing for 152 yards and scoring four touchdowns, with help from a defense that sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson seven times.
McVay shrugged off talk of last year’s win, calling Seattle “a very, very difficult place to play.”
The Seahawks started the season with losses at Denver and Chicago, but evened their record with victories over Dallas and Arizona.
The Rams placed linebacker Dominique Easley on injured reserve, waived linebacker Carlos Thompson, who had been on injured reserve, and cut defensive end Marcus Martin from the practice squad. Defensive lineman Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and defensive back Linden Stephens were signed to the practice squad. ... The Rams resume practice Wednesday.