As the calendar reads July 11, we’re officially two weeks away from the Rams’ veterans reporting to U.C. Irvine for 2018 training camp.
With that, let’s begin to take a position-by-position look at Los Angeles’ roster as it currently stands with this year’s Countdown to Camp. We’ll begin with coordinator John Fassel’s group: special teams.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein finished the season on injured reserve after suffering a back injury in December, but still ended 2017 as the league’s leader in scoring with 158 points. It was undoubtedly the best season of Zuerlein’s six-year career, as he converted 38-of-40 attempted field goals and 44-of-46 extra points. Fassel said during the offseason program that Zuerlein should be full go by training camp.
Punter Johnny Hekker had 33 fewer punts in 2017 than 2016, but still tied a career high with a 47.9-yard average. He was named a pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro for the fourth time following the strong season.
Long snapper Jake McQuaide signed a three-year contract to remain with the club in early March, ensuring the place kicking operation of McQuaide as snapper, Hekker as holder, and Zuerlein as kicker will continue through 2018.
Kicker Sam Ficken also returns for training camp. After signing with the club in December following Zuerlein’s injury, Ficken connected on 4-of-5 field goal attempts and 5-of-6 extra points — including playoffs.
At returner, Pharoh Cooper returns off a Pro Bowl season. Cooper was a first-team All-Pro kick returner and second-team All-Pro punt returner in 2017. The South Carolina product led the league with 27.4 yards per kick return last season, and is excited to continue that trend in 2018 even with the NFL’s new kickoff/kick return rules.
Tomorrow, Countdown to Camp will continue with a look at the Rams’ offensive line.