LA Rams: Long snapper Matt Orzech vs Steven Wirtel heats up

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams special teams are holding competitive tryouts once more. Thankfully, this year the team does not need to find a new full-time placekicker with almost no time to assess and process, but rather the organization is bringing in a different specialist. You see, in the offseason, the LA Rams lost another veteran special teams player, long snapper Jake McQuaide, to the Dallas Cowboys.

McQuaide joins former ST coordinator John Fassel (a.k.a. Bones), former assistant ST coach Matt Daniels, and former placekicker Greg Zuerlein (a.k.a. The Leg). That leaves the LA Rams in need of deciding who will be this year’s starting long snapper. So far, the LA Rams loaded up with three long snappers when the team claimed LS Matt Orzech to join both Colin Holba and Steven Wirtel on the Rams roster.

Almost immediately after adding Orzech, the team cut Holba. That means that the Rams are working with two long snappers. But keep in mind that Orzech had a history with LA Rams ST Coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Based on how rapidly and heavily the team seems to have invested in special teams players from the 2021 NFL Draft, that history will surely matter quite a bit.

His camp competition is Steve Wirtel, a 2020 undrafted free agent signed by the Detroit Lions out of Iowa State. Wirtel is 6-foot-4 235-pounds who was on the Detroit Lions practice squad in 2020.

Matthew Orzech is a 6-foot-3 246-pound former tight end out of Azusa Pacific, originally signed on by the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. After he failed to make the Ravens 53-man roster, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars and played through the 2019 season for the Jags. In 2020, he was signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad, and then to the Tennessee Titans practice squad. After being waived, he was signed by the LA Rams.

Much like the departure of Zuerlein, the defection of Jake McQuaide has created a need to audition a new starter for the team at a position that seldom gets mentioned. Long snapper, like offensive center, is a critical role that fans expect to go off without a hitch.

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So this year’s competition will be heated indeed. If I were a betting man, I would plunk down a small stack of coins that Orzech gets the job. DeCammillis knows him well, and no doubt had a huge say in the LA Rams signing up Orzech. If the Rams stick to their 2020 plan, Wirtel will likely remain on the practice squad as an emergency LS for the 2021 season if he fails to win a starting role.