Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu is LA Rams special teams new secret weapon

(Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images) /

From the moment the LA Rams signed up CFL kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, the Rams have a new special teams secret weapon

Hallelujah Hajrullahu! If you are not yet familiar with that catchy phrase or what it signifies, you soon will be. You see, Lirim Hajrullahu is the former CFL kicker signed to compete for the LA Rams now vacated kicker role.  How good is he?  Patience, please. This is a tasty story, so you cannot rush to the dessert before the appetizer and the main course.

The Rams kicking game was devastated when the team lost ST Coordinator John Fassel, ST assistant coach Matt Daniels, and kicker Greg Zuerlein all defected to the Dallas Cowboys. It seemed like everyone was leaving a sinking ship.  But the Rams special teams ship was sinking thanks to a horrific year by Zuerlein.  In fact, the Rams special teams ranked 18th in the NFL in 2018, and 26th in the NFL in 2019. It was time for a change. The LA Rams now had a blank slate.

New leadership for a new direction

The Rams set about to find new leadership to turn the ship around on special teams. It was not long until the Rams had found their guy, Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego.  He quickly added special teams assistant coach Tory Woodbury from the team’s scouting department.  Then the team went about adding kickers.  The team then signed former XFL kicker Austin MacGinnis and former CFL kicker Lirim Hajrullahu.  Finally, the team drafted kicker Sam Sloman in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Now, how will the team pare down the kickers without the opportunity for preseason games, organized team activities, or a normal training practice?  Folks, the competition may or may not even take place. But I’m calling this one already in favor of Lirim Hajrullahu.  Why?  Here is a video of him kicking 75 and 77-yard field goals cleanly through the uprights.

More than a kicker

While Sam Sloman and Austin MacGinnis are excellent kickers in their own right, Lirim Hajrullahu is already as big at the game of professional football. He was a six-year veteran kicker and punter in the CFL. In reality, he was somewhat more than just a kicker. He was somewhat of a CFL celebrity. And why not? He was deadly accurate from long-range, an area the Rams desperately want to address in their next kicker.  In his six CFL seasons, he was a two-time All-star and one-time kicker for the winner of the Grey Cup.

But most of all, he is one of the nicest persons to lace up a pair of football cleats. So special, he even has a cover of Hallelujah dedicated to him on Youtube (check it out). He boasts a career 83 percent accuracy, which is even more impressive when you consider the swirling winds which plague CFL games. His six-season statistics can be FOUND HERE. A more detailed set of statistics for his most recent four seasons can be FOUND HERE.

A fire inside

The one thing you do NOT want to see is timidness in an NFL kicker. They are on an island, and therefore must be 100 percent locked in and confident. So it’s very encouraging to see this statement from Hajrullahu:

"“I’ve had professional experience, I’ve played in big games and I believe I can compete with the best of them.”-per RamsNFL tweet"

So it’s safe to state he has no lack of confidence. But can he handle playing for the LA Rams in the likelihood of no fans in the stands?  My guess is that not only is he equipped to handle it, but he will be an asset throughout the entire season.  He is engaging, personable, and proficient.

I’m not certain how the LA Rams will decide who gets the starting kicker job, but my guess is that Lirim Hajrullahu will likely end up with the job.

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The Rams suffered through a season where Zuerlein made just five of eleven from 40+ yards.  For comparison purposes, Lirim Hajrullahu was a perfect 31 for 31 at 40+ yards over the past two seasons. That is not just better scoring. That translates into wins, folks.  The Rams just missed winning several games in 2019 due to their special teams play.  Perhaps if the Rams keep Lirim Hajrullahu, we’ll all be singing “Hallelujah Hajrullahu!” before the 2020 season is over?