LA Rams rookie kicker Samuel Sloman is very similar to that of Lion’s 2014 rookie kicker Nate Freese. Hopefully, their careers are far different
The LA Rams ST coordinator John Bonamego has been down this path before. In 2014, the Detroit Lions had a kicking competition between rookie Nate Freese and 13-year veteran Jay Feely. Rookie kicker Freese won that competition. But by September 22, 2014, the Lions had no choice but to cut the rookie and find a new kicker. veteran kicker Alex Henery. By October 7, 2014, the Lions were forced to cut Henery and signed up former Broncos kicker Matt Prater.
Prater would go on to make 21 of 26 field goals for the Lions in 2014. In the end, the Detroit Lions special teams performance was ranked 31st in the NFL. The Lions recovered admirably the following year, finishing 13th in the league. But by that time it was too late. The damage was done. The Lions opted for a drafted rookie kicker who choked up and missed his first three field goals. Could it happen again?
While there is no cause and effect, the similarities are enough to raise an eyebrow. It both cases, a rookie competed with another kicker with more experience. In both cases, the rookie kicker struggle mightily. And in both cases, the kicking job was awarded to the rookie over the more experienced competition due to a “late surge of accuracy”. This sounds eerily similar to the storyline of the Rams kicking competition this year, which resulted in choosing rookie Samuel Sloman over two non-NFL veteran kickers. The way he did it? A late surge.
While some have downplayed the pushback on social media after the Rams selection of Sloman, this spotlights why those concerns may be justified. Competition like the one the Rams just played out does have an historic reason for being a significant decision for the team.
The Rams can insure against that type of fiasco by signing up either Hajrullahu or MacGinnis to the practice squad. While unconventional, it would allow the Rams to call up a new kicker from the practice squad if Sloman meets with early-season difficulties.