The Los Angeles Rams parted with Greg Zuerlein this year after 119 games and 201 made field goals, the second most in franchise history after Jeff Wilkins. But he wasn’t the only kicker to see his tenure with the Rams end in 2020 and we should take time to appreciate the seven games of rookie Sam Sloman, who was released this week after a career that sees him rank 20th in franchise history in field goals with eight.
Today you were just the Sloman on the totem pole. Tomorrow you could be kicking for the Jaguars.
April 20, 2020 - Rams show interesting in Miami (OH) kicker Sam Sloman
Things got off to a smokin’ start when LA was rumored to be interested in Sloman on 4/20.
In his career at Miami, Sloman made 49 of his 62 field goal attempts, a rate of 79%. He also made 112 of his 115 extra-point tries (97.4%). Last season was by far his best year, making 86.7& of his FG attempts, including an impressive 11-for-14 rate from beyond 40 yards.
The Rams have emphasized the importance of a kicker’s accuracy from 40-49 yards after Zuerlein went just 5-for-11 last year, and Sloman was 12-for-15 in his career from that range.
April 25, 2020 - Rams select K Sam Sloman with 248th pick in the draft
LA picked Sloman to be their KOTF when there were only seven selections remaining, including one of their own, which was used on guard Tremayne Anchrum. The final pick of the draft was linebacker Tae Crowder, who was starting for the Giants and had a fumble recovery for a touchdown recently before a hamstring injury put him on IR.
Undrafted kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was signed by the Colts and is currently 16 of 18 on field goals and 15 of 15 on extra points.
The selection of Sloman was graded here at TST, with 32% of voters giving the pick a B, 28% giving it an A, and 26% giving it a C; 7% each for D and F.
July 27, 2020 - Rams sign all nine draft picks
Sloman signed a four-year, $3.37 million deal with $75,492 guaranteed and a salary of $326,668 in 2020.
August 21, 2020 - Sloman goes 3 of 6 on field goal attempts in practice
He was in competition with Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis, two other kickers without past NFL experience.
August 22, 2020 - Sloman falls behind Hajrullahu and MacGinnis in first scrimmage
Without preseason, the Rams had to run a couple of game-like scrimmages at SoFi Stadium to warm up for the regular season and to test out their kicking competition. In the first go-around, Sloman appeared to finish in third place after Hajrullahu went 5 of 5 and MacGinnis went 4 of 5 on their attempts, but Sloman went only 3 of 5.
August 26, 2020 - Sloman hits a field goal from “roughly” 40 yards out during two-minute drill at practice
Said Sean McVay a few days later:
“The more opportunities that we can create to try to simulate those game experiences is what’s important. We’re going to take all of our time and I think all those guys have done a nice job, but it certainly is far from decided.”
August 29, 2020 - Sloman goes 5 of 8 in second scrimmage
Thankfully the Rams have not yet needed eight field goal attempts in a game this season, but there’s nine contests remaining left to do it. Sloman made only 5 of 8 kicks in the second scrimmage, making him the least accurate of the three during LA’s two fake games. Because Hajrullahu also went 5 of 8 and MacGinnis was 6 of 8, nobody pulled ahead either.
September 4, 2020 - Sloman convincingly shuts door on kicking competition, wins!
It appears the #Rams' three-way kicker derby is over: They're expected to go with rookie seventh-round pick Sam Sloman, per sources. Sloman -- from Sean McVay's alma mater, Miami (Ohio) -- had been competing with former CFL all-star Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 4, 2020
McVay felt that Sloman has “pop” in his leg and that he had mental toughness in those difficult kicking situations in practice.
“Sam really just made a push these last couple of days and just the pop that he has in his leg,” McVay said. “Some of the youth that he has, and I also was impressed with just the mental toughness in these circumstances.
“You try to create pressure situations while also keeping guys confident. All three of those guys did a nice job, but it was — it certainly wasn’t like a runaway easy decision. Sam was the guy that we felt best about. I think it was really a result of, he kind of played his best in the last couple of days and I liked the way that he handled some of the tough days, the way that he consistently responded as well.”
Sloman said he focused only on what he could control during the competition and that he was relieved it was over.
“I was pretty happy. I was excited, but I was also a little bit relieved,” Sloman said. “I’m really excited just to be able to prepare for next week and focus on doing my job next Sunday. I think we’re able to make that shift to get a little bit better rhythm with (long snapper) Jake (McQuaide) and (punter) Johnny (Hekker).”
Sign of the times...Kicker Samuel Sloman says the way he found out that he made the Rams roster was the fact that he got a COVID test when he got to the facility.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 5, 2020
September 8, 2020 - Sloman explains he’s not nervous about kicking in front of no fans at SoFi Stadium because he went to Miami (OH)
“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 says teammates called him “The Kosher Cannon” among other nicknames.
September 13, 2020 - Sam Sloman makes his NFL debut!
Sloman’s first NFL play was a made extra point to cap off LA’s first drive of the season in a home game against the Cowboys. At the end of the first half, he kicked his first field goal attempt at the NFL from 29 yards out:
Here’s what the paper won’t tell ya: Sloman then made good on kicks from 35 and 31 and another extra point in the Rams’ 20-17 win over Dallas.
September 20, 2020 - Sam Sloman has first attempt that is blocked
In his first road game, Sloman made his first three extra points as the Rams pulled out to a 21-3 lead in the first half against the Eagles. He made a 30-yard field goal and another extra point to put LA up 31-19 in the fourth quarter.
When more points would have only felt excessive, Sloman’s final kick — a PAT with 3:37 remaining — was low and blocked by Hassan Ridgeway.
September 27, 2020 - Sloman attempts longest field goal of career
Not just anyone can attempt a 53-yard field goal. First, you have to be hired by an NFL team. That happened for Sloman this year and he attempted a 53-yard field goal on the Rams’ opening drive in Buffalo against the Bills. Sloman missed left, but not by much.
What’s lost in that memory perhaps is that LA had second and 3 at the Bills 24 but Jared Goff was sacked on back-to-back plays and instead of a 41-yard attempt, 12 more yards of distance were added to the kick. It’s such a rare occurrence for Goff to be sacked at all, let alone twice in a row, but one of Sloman’s misses could have been a make if the Rams had not lost field position.
The Rams did lose 35-32, but Sloman made all three extra point attempts and a 30-yard field goal.
October 4, 2020 - Sloman’s first PERFECT GAME as a pro
Rookie Sam Sloman went two of two on extra points and made a 32-yard field goal in a 17-9 win over the Giants.
October 11, 2020 - Sloman makes four kicks against Washington, only misses one PAT
Despite pulling his first extra point wide left after the Rams scored on their opening drive, Sloman regrouped and made his next three PATs and a 28-yard field goal in a 30-10. That’s resiliency.
October 18, 2020 - Sam Sloman joins the 40-yard club
With the Rams offense chugging along and not setting up Sloman for many long attempts, he didn’t get many opportunities to kick from beyond 35 yards during his seven games with Los Angeles. Then in a key NFC West showdown against the 49ers, Sloman connected (like a boss) on a 42-yard attempt to open the second half and make the score 21-9.
Previously, the Rams had six points because after Goff found Robert Woods for a 10-yard touchdown, Dion Jordan found Sloman’s low extra point attempt and blocked it in the second quarter.
Less publicized is Sloman connecting on his other extra point attempt and this 42-yarder, a career long.
October 26, 2020 - Sloman makes his Rams finale
Sloman made his first four attempts against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, including three extra points and a 22-yarder. Up 24-3 in the fourth quarter, McVay elected to send out his kicker for a 48-yard attempt even though he knew that Sloman kicks better when he’s under pressure.
As a matter of fact, Sloman almost always missed when there was little pressure. Or less pressure. Whether it was up by three touchdowns or the first drive of the game, Sloman rarely missed when it felt like the points were needed and that’s probably what I’ll miss most about him.
October 27, 2020 - Rams release Sam Sloman
And so came to an end this era of Sam Sloman as the LA Rams kicker.
8 of 11 on field goals. 18 of 21 on extra points. 1 of 1 on kicking competitions.