For the St Louis Rams in 2012, one has to look no further than the youth infusion at the specialist positions to realize that this franchise is turning the page on some bad karma from years past. The club decided that last year’s kicker, Josh Brown, and punter, Donnie Jones, no longer fit with the direction they were heading in and didn’t retain either veteran.
Now there is sixth round kicker Greg Zuerlein who has been making headlines with his booming leg and equally impressive accuracy. The obscure Missouri Western State product was on the Rams radar from the beginning of the draft process, visiting the team a few times for private workouts. After nailing kicks from 39, 44, 49, 54, and 59 yards before narrowly missing a 64 yarder in a scrimmage Saturday, the Rams are confident they made the right call there.
At punter, Johnny Hekker of Oregon State has been crushing the ball and showing off a cannon of a leg, but his accuracy has been sketchy. That is far less of a concern for a punter as opposed to a kicker, but it’s still a valuable component to the craft. His Head Coach Jeff Fisher joked about these issues saying: “We had a couple stray balls that have gone from one field to the other. So we’ll get that cleaned up. But we’re not concerned. We knew going in that may be the case.” Hekker weighed in saying that he is: “using the sideline as your 12th defender, forcing fair catches or having them catch it and step out of bounds. The only people I’m trying to impress are the coaches. I’m not really worried about smashing 70 yarders or whatever.”
While there are still some areas of concern remaining, the Rams seem to be convinced that these two youngsters can get the job done when the year begins. Their individual performances throughout the preseason will ultimately determine if they have what it takes to come through in the clutch.
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