Greg Zuerlein
Hocker might kick for Rams again; Zuerlein hasn't practiced
Greg Zuerlein

Hocker might kick for Rams again; Zuerlein hasn't practiced

Published Dec. 4, 2015 4:44 p.m. ET

ST. LOUIS -- Kicker Greg Zuerlein did not practice Friday, meaning rookie Zach Hocker remains the St. Louis Rams' kicker for now.

Zuerlein has a groin injury and has not practiced this week. He is listed as questionable for Sunday against the visiting Arizona Cardinals (9-2).

"Greg did not kick," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after practice at Rams Park. "He'll probably be a game-time decision.

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Added Fisher: "Zach kicked well, he kicked off well, so we'll see."

Zuerlein missed the game against Cincinnati last week. Hocker made his Rams debut and converted one extra point in last week's 31-7 loss at Cincinnati.

"Zach did a good job for us," Fisher said. "He hit the good extra point, then he kicked off, got the two touchbacks."

The Rams did not make Zuerlein available for comment after practice. Fisher described Zuerlein's ailment as a "hip flexor strain, something along those lines."

Zuerlein went out to warm up on Nov. 27 and began to kick field goals. That's when Fisher sensed something off.

"I noticed that he didn't look right. I went up to him, asked him how he felt," Fisher said. "I asked him if he needed to kick anymore and he said, 'No, I think I'm done.' So I just shut it down. Often times you get tight. A kicker will get tight. Then he came in and we examined him. It was more of a concern well after practice, so we shut him down.

"Sometimes, unfortunately, it happens to kickers because there's a lot of twisting and a lot of torqueing that goes on."

One man's injury is another's opportunity. On the day after Thanksgiving, Hocker was watching the Missouri-Arkansas football game in Rison, Arkansas, at the home of his fiancee's parents. His cellphone had died earlier in day and he charged it back up.

Good thing.

The phone rang in the middle of the afternoon. It was the Rams calling.

"I got in my truck an hour later heading to St. Louis," Hocker said. "I had no idea what was going on in St. Louis. I knew I was just thankful for the opportunity."

Hocker played in college at Arkansas and signed with the Washington Redskins, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2014. He was released on Aug. 30 during final roster cuts before the start of the season in favor of Kai Forbath.

He signed with the Miami Dolphins in January 2015 but was waived three months later. Then the New Orleans Saints signed him. He beat out Dustin Hopkins in training camp to start this season.

However, Hocker went on to miss 4 of 13 field goals over the first six games of the season, including a potential game-winning field goal against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 -- he hit the upright on a 30-yard attempt. The Saints went on to win in overtime.

Hocker missed field-goal attempts from 51 and 49 yards in a win over the Atlanta Falcons and was released Oct. 19.

"In the pros, you have to make one of those," Hocker said. "You're expected to make both if you want to hang around. ... There were no hard feelings when I got released. You can't take it personally. That's how it goes in the NFL."

NOTES: RT Rob Havenstein (calf) practiced and likely will return after missing three of the last four games. ... OL Andrew Donnal (knee) is out and will miss his second consecutive week. ... CB Trumaine Johnson (thigh) and DE Robert Quinn (back) did not practice all week. ... QB Case Keenum was limited in practice and remains under concussion protocol, Fisher said. If he is the backup Sunday that means he has been cleared but won't start because of lack of practice time.


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