OXNARD, Calif. – Kicker Greg Zuerlein is still on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list following offseason back surgery, but he's on course to be ready for the season opener, if not sooner, special teams coordinator John Fassel said Tuesday.
"Greg has actually already started kicking. He hasn't done it in the group setting, but our trainers put him on a great 'back to kicking' protocol, if you will," Fassel said. "About two weeks ago he started with no-step kicks, then he graduated to one-step kicks and now he's doing full-step kicks. We're hoping hopefully this weekend, maybe even (Friday's) Arizona (preseason game) pre-game that he'll hit a few operation kicks with our snapper and our holder."
Zuerlein has spent all of camp on the Active/PUP list, rehabbing with the athletic trainers. Punter Hunter Niswander has handled place kicks and kickoffs in practice and in last Thursday's preseason opener against the Steelers.
Zuerlein, signed to a three-year deal last year, made 34 of a career-high 41 field goal attempts last season and went 33-of-36 on extra points. He previously played eight seasons under Fassel with the Rams.
Fassel thinks Zuerlein's time off is actually "a blessing in disguise" because his kicking leg won't be overworked when the season starts.
"I think the timing is going to great," Fassel said, "and by (the Aug. 29 preseason finale against) Jacksonville or at least Week 1 (against Tampa Bay) he's going to be 100% on all cylinders."