Rams rookie Sam Sloman gets chance for more kicks beginning Sunday
No fans will be in the stands at brand-new SoFi Stadium on Sunday night when the Rams open the season against the Dallas Cowboys. That won’t throw off Rams rookie kicker Samuel Sloman, who played in college at Miami of Ohio, a member of the Mid-American Conference.
“It’s not going to be weird for me not having fans at the games,” Sloman told reporters. “I played plenty of games in college with not many people there.
“I think it will be just pretty normal.”
Sloman, who will turn 23 this month, is in a high-profile position for a Rams team looking to return to the playoffs after last season’s 9-7 finish left it out.
Sloman is replacing Greg Zuerlein, the Rams kicker from 2012 to 2019. Two years ago, Zuerlein made the biggest kick in Rams history — a 57-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC championship game that sent the team to the Super Bowl.
Zuerlein will be on hand Sunday at SoFi Stadium. He signed a free-agent contract with Dallas, reuniting with former Rams special-teams coordinator John Fassel, now a member of first-year Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy’s staff.
Sloman earned the chance to replace Zuerlein by winning a training camp competition with Lirim Hajrullahu, a Canadian Football League veteran, and Austin MacGinnis, who played in the defunct Alliance of American Football and the XFL.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff is hoping for a rebound season in 2020, and he’s willing to follow Tom Brady’s approach to the game to make it happen.
Zuerlein, nicknamed Leg-a-Tron, has range that ranks among the best in the NFL. Rams coach Sean McVay said he was still “working through” Sloman’s range.
“This’ll be something that’s ongoing,” McVay said, adding, “You want to make sure that you’re putting him in situations to try to build confidence. In a lot of instances, that’s where I’ve got to be smart.”
Sloman played soccer while growing up in Georgia. But football in Southeastern Conference country is apparently omnipresent.
“Everybody loves football back there,” Sloman said.
Friends in high school encouraged him to try football and he “just fell in love with it.” After playing at Pace Academy, he moved on to Miami, McVay’s alma mater.
In four seasons at Miami, Sloman made 49 of 62 field-goal attempts, including 26 of 30 last season. He said he hung out with offensive linemen who gave him several nicknames.
“’The Kosher Cannon,’” Sloman said. “That’s definitely a fan favorite back in school.”
The Rams selected Sloman in the seventh round of April’s draft. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL mandated that teams conduct offseason programs virtually. So Sloman’s first opportunity to kick for McVay and special-teams coordinator John Bonamego did not come until training camp.
After the Rams missed the playoffs last season, coach Sean McVay needs to show he can mold a team with key roster and coaching changes into a winner.
Sloman said veteran punter and holder Johnny Hekker provided support.
“Just to have somebody there, not only to help me with field goals obviously, but also mentally just, you know, always giving me little reminders, telling you you’re going to have your good days, you’re going to have your bad days, how to bounce back from that,” Sloman said. “Really how to approach every practice, every situation like a professional, and you’re always ready for everything coming your way.”
Sloman got a feel for SoFi Stadium during a scrimmage and mock game.
Now his kicks will count.
“I’m so, so thankful for the opportunity,” he said, “and I’m really excited to get to play another football game. “
Rams quarterback Jared Goff purchased book packs and backpacks for 1,000 first-, second- and third-graders in the Inglewood Unified School District, the Rams announced. All proceeds from sales of Goff’s JG16 apparel will be donated to the district. “I want to be part of the solution of leveling the playing field for youth in our new home,” Goff said in a statement. … The Rams were off Tuesday. They resume practice Wednesday.
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