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2018 Los Angeles Rams Roster Preview: K Sam Ficken, kickin and stickin?

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Perhaps the most interesting backup kicker role in the NFL will come to the fore later this month.

Los Angeles Rams v Tennessee Titan Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

When Los Angeles Rams K Greg Zuerlein went for surgery on a herniated disc in his back last year, the Rams were in a uniquely tough spot.

It was late December. They had two games left in the regular season. The playoffs loomed. The team had to find a replacement for a kicker on pace to break the single season scoring record. With little time and slim pickings late in the season, they turned to undrafted, untested and unemployed K Sam Ficken.

It was never going to be fair.

In college, Sam Ficken managed an average performance for Penn St. finishing with 72% field goal completion rate over his four years at the school. After going undrafted during the 2015 NFL Draft, Ficken attended the Kansas City Chiefs’ minicamp in May 2015, but he was ultimately not signed by the team. It was not until July 2016 that he would be signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars only to be waived at the end of August.

Following an injury to Chiefs K Cairo Santos, the team signed Ficken as a replacement on August 8, 2017. He wouldn’t stay long though after Santos recovered, Ficken was released less than a month later on September 2nd. From there, we know where he ended up.

Roster Battle

Based on numbers alone, he did well enough for the Rams in the three games he started. He managed two field goals on three attempts and four extra points on five attempts. What those numbers don’t show is the change in the offense due to not having the security of coming away with at least three points after crossing the 50-yard line. There was an obvious change in strategy with the Rams not wanting to try the untested kicker from more than a moderate distance.

Ficken has shown the ability to improve over time and with some mentoring, going from a 50% field goal completion rate his freshman year in college to 82% by his senior year. Coaching by Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel most likely improved his abilities a measurable amount, but is it enough to come close Greg “The Leg”? I doubt it.

Expectations

Show growth in his kicking ability. Kick in every preseason game. Say goodbye when the final cuts are made.

Chances of making the final roster (.3/10)

Short of a catastrophe to Legatron’s kicking ability, a practice squad spot is the best Ficken can hope for on the Rams.