Special teams coordinator John Fassel was there to see kicker Greg Zuerlein suffer through a severe back injury in December.
Having coached Zuerlein since he came in as a sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western State, Fassel was rightfully concerned as the kicker was experiencing so much pain that he couldn’t kick during the latter stages of the Rams’ 42-7 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.
So when Fassel gave the media an update about Zuerlein’s injury status on Wednesday, it was significant — especially when the special teams coordinator revealed just how well Zuerlein has recovered since having back surgery just before the start of the calendar year.
“Greg is progressing great. What Ted and Reggie — what they’ve done has been excellent. ” Fassel said, referring to head trainer Reggie Scott and head strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath. “So, I think Greg — if we had to play Sunday, he could probably go. But we haven’t done that with him this whole spring.”
Head coach Sean McVay recently told the media that the club has been particularly cautious with Zuerlein during the offseason program, so as to not risk any setbacks. Zuerlein has, however, been kicking more on the field as of late. In fact, on Wednesday, he was kicking field goals with the entire operation of Jake McQuaide as long snapper and Johnny Hekker as holder. There were no uprights to kick through, but it was still a welcome sight for the 2017 league leader in points.
“We’ve kept his volume and his intensity really low just to be extra cautious,” Fassel said. “But a week after his surgery he was in the training room and he’s lived in there ever since that day.”
Zuerlein recorded the best season of his career for L.A. in 2017, nailing 38-of-40 field goal attempts, and 44 of 46 extra-point attempts. One of the extra point misses came during the Week 15 contest in Seattle. Zuerlein won a pair of NFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards, one of which came after he set a franchise record with seven field goals in the club’s 35-30 victory over the Cowboys in Week 4.
Now having gotten through much of his recovery and rehab, Zuerlein is in position to once again be among the league’s top kickers in 2018.
“He’s had a great offseason with his rehab, then his training,” Fassel said. “When training camp starts, I can imagine we’ll be full speed.”