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Rams lose K Greg Zuerlein for a few weeks, re-sign Ficken

(AP Photo/John Hefti)

By GREG BEACHAM

AP Sports Writer

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Greg Zuerlein, the Rams' All-Pro kicker, will be sidelined for the near future after injuring his groin during pregame warmups for Los Angeles' blowout win over Arizona.

The Rams (2-0) are re-signing Sam Ficken to take Zuerlein's place for "at least a few weeks," coach Sean McVay said Monday after confirming the only disappointing development from the Rams' 34-0 thrashing of the Cardinals.

"We'll move forward with Sam," McVay said. "Got a lot of confidence in him. It's good that he's kind of been through some experience with us, playing in games that are very, very important, which we know this next one is. Greg will get back hopefully sooner than later, and we'll embrace that when that time comes."

The Rams are placing receiver Michael Thomas on injured reserve to make room on their 53-man roster for Ficken, who was with the Rams throughout training camp. He initially joined the club last December when Zuerlein injured his back with two games left in his Pro Bowl season.

Ficken made two of his three field goal attempts in the regular season, and he added two field goals without a miss in Los Angeles' playoff loss to Atlanta.

While Ficken doesn't have the booming range of the All-Pro known as Greg the Leg, McVay isn't worried as the Rams head into a crosstown showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) on Sunday.

"You've got a lot of confidence in Sam, and he has shown that he's a good kicker," McVay said. "But certainly you don't take for granted the fact that you're talking about Greg, (who) smashes a 55-yarder on the dirt in Oakland."

The Rams reached out to Ficken on Sunday even before the team had finished beating Arizona, likely aware that several teams would be in need of a new kicker after the special-teams tumult of Week 2.

"He was still in the area, so it worked out in our favor," McVay said.

After Zuerlein was hurt in warmups, All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker filled in on kickoffs and even made a 20-yard field goal and an extra point. But the Rams also went for successful 2-point conversions on their first three touchdowns, and the ever-innovative McVay acknowledged the experience had made him even more interested in going for two regularly.

"That's definitely something that we'll think about, and it can potentially alter the way we approach things, for sure," McVay said. "We always talk about being an aggressive team. ... Those guys, when they end up executing the way that they did in those situations, it certainly gives you a belief and a confidence that this is something that you might explore doing more times than not."

Thomas, a special-teams standout and backup kick returner, injured his hip in the Rams' season-opening win at Oakland. The injury absences of Thomas and All-Pro kick returner Pharoh Cooper leave the Rams with just five healthy receivers: Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds and JoJo Natson, who was only re-signed last week to return kicks.

McVay also must choose a starting right guard to face the Chargers during practice this week. Jamon Brown's two-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy has ended, but fill-in starter Austin Blythe performed strongly in his two starts.

"This is a situation where we feel like we have two starting-caliber guards," McVay said. "As far as how we move forward, it's not a result of anything Jamon hasn't done, but the fact that these are decisions that aren't very clear-cut is because of Austin's play. He's played so well. He's done such a great job."

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Updated September 17, 2018

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