Punterless LA Rams face Raiders in 2nd preseason game

(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

Talk about a topsy turvy situation? The LA Rams, Iike many NFL teams right now, appeared to be right to believe that they have entered calm waters over challenges that arise from the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to the development of the vaccine, and stringent measures that salvaged the 2020 NFL season, the Rams likely thought that the worst was behind them.

Well, think again.

Per ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry, both LA Rams punters Corey Bojorquez and Johnny Hekker have been assigned to the LA Rams reserve/COVID-19 roster. That comes at point-blank range before the teams play their second preseason game.

The fact of the matter is that many teams adopted the second tier of special teams specialists last season and signed them to the team’s practice squad.  That allowed the team to handle their starters, but just in case of an emergency, they had an emergency specialist who could be activated for the game from the practice squad.

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That hasn’t happened yet, as the team has not gotten to the point of creating the practice squad. As such, both punters have been in close proximity to one another. That is enough to quarantine both even if both are vaccinated and just one tests positive for COVID-19.  With both punters out of the picture, the Rams will likely rely upon placekicker Matt Gay to handle all kicking functions in tonight’s game, however awkward that will prove to be.

On a more positive note, this unfortunate set of circumstances will likely reemphasize the need for the Rams front office to dedicate practice squad slots to special teams players before the season begins. It also allows the Rams to regroup over their safety protocols, and perhaps adhere more closely to some of the safety protocols from a year ago.

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For this game, the Rams will be at an even bigger disadvantage. Should be a wild game, at least.