Obviously on a team with as much star power as the Los Angeles Rams, the special teamers are going to take a back seat. Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, and Jared Goff will get all of the attention. However, the Rams do have two of the best specialists in the league. Greg ‘The Leg’ Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker have become one of the best special teams tandems in the game. They both have big legs and have made fourth down a lot easier for Los Angeles. The special teams deserve a little more credit for their efforts to get this team to the Super Bowl.
Greg The Leg
Greg Zuerlein is often overshadowed by legends like Adam Vinatieri and Justin Tucker, but he is an elite kicker in the NFL. He was named a first-team All-Pro after his performance in 2017 when he made over 95% of his kicks. This year, after being injured early in the season, he missed just five kicks over the entire season. Zuerlein has been a top kicker in the league over the past three seasons and he proved that in the NFC Championship Game.
With tens of thousands of screaming, and whistling, Saints fans all around him, Zuerlein shined and is a large reason why the Rams advanced. With less than a minute left in regulation, he nailed a 48-yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime. Then, with even more pressure on him, Zuerlein showed off his big leg with a 57-yard field goal for the win. That one may have been good from 70 yards out. Greg the Leg proved his value with four field goals in that game, but he has been a big reason why the Rams have improved so rapidly. Consistent kicking is often taken for granted and Zuerlein deserves to be talked about as one of the greats.
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The league’s second-highest paid punter deserves his money. He averaged the second-most net yardage on punts this season and was seventh in total length. Hekker isn’t called on too often. He punted just 43 times this season, less than three per game. However, he has been fantastic in his limited opportunities. He has been named a first-team All-Pro in four of his last six seasons. Hekker is one of the most consistent punters in the league and he put on a show in the NFC Championship. He averaged 45.75 yards per punt in his four opportunities. However, Hekker was on the field five times.
Another talent of Hekker is his ability to throw the ball on fakes. In his career, Hekker has completed 11 of 19 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. However, This doesn’t include the most important pass of his career. Against the Saints, he completed a 12-yard pass to Sam Shields for a first down on a fake punt. This seemed to turn the game around for Los Angeles and allowed the offense to get into a groove. Hekker has become a weapon for the Rams with his arm and his leg. He should continue to be efficient and consistent throughout his career.