Los Angeles Rams running back situation for 2020

Los Angeles Rams running back situation for 2020

  • 2020 NFL Season
  • Cam Akers
  • Darrell Henderson
  • John Kelly
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Malcolm Brown
  • Running Backs
  • Xavier Jones
By Raul Corona August 25, 2020 4 Comment
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How will the Los Angeles Rams running back depth chart will look like for the 2020 season?

Ah, the running back position – one of the flashiest and most electric positions in football. It is also arguably the one with the least value in this modern NFL. For the Los Angeles Rams, in particular, the running back position has featured some of the all-time greats.

From Eric Dickerson to Marshall Faulk to Steven Jackson the Rams clearly value running back higher than many other NFL teams. Furthermore, the future Mount Rushmore of Rams running backs will likely include Todd Gurley who finished his career as a Ram with 58 rushing touchdowns (tied with Faulk).

Gurley was truly a great player for the Rams since they drafted him in the first round back in 2015. During his tenure with the Rams, Gurley won offensive player of the year in 2017 and received first-team All-Pro Honors for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

His presence on the field was a threat to opposing defenses both in the running and passing game. This in turn made the often-used play-action consistently effective.

Unfortunately, reports of a knee injury surfaced during the Rams playoff run in 2018. While the coaching staff, the front office and Gurley himself denied these claims, the 2019 season served as strong evidence that there was indeed a reason for concern.

In the 2019 season, TG30 ran for 857 yards on 223 carries, averaging 3.8 yards; a noticeable drop from the previous season. He did, however, remain a threat in the end zone, rushing for 12 touchdowns and catching another two.

Moving on from Todd Gurley

So where do the Rams go from here at the running back position? How do the Rams replace such an impactful player that was the focal point of Sean McVay’s precise and dangerous offense?

The first thing to take into consideration here is that the Rams will go a different way and go from a featured back system to a committee approach. If that ends up being the case, then we might see the running backs used situationally.

Even still, a depth chart shall determine who will be in the huddle for that first offensive series against Dallas week 1.

 Let’s take a look at the guys on the roster as of August 22nd.

 Cam Akers

A complete back who made wonders at Florida State behind a terrible offensive line. He was a steal for the Rams, as the 52nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Cam Akers is a versatile runner that looks like a modern NFL running back. He’s patient while possessing enough explosiveness and strength to make it past the line of scrimmage.

He is also a threat in the passing game, showing good hands and excellent positioning on the field. Akers will be the early-down back and should get at least 40 percent of the reps.

 Darrell Henderson

The second-year pick out of Memphis is as electric as they come. Darrell Henderson is a smaller back (listed at 5’8″) but with great upper body strength and incredible speed.

What sets him apart is his acceleration in close spaces, being able to move quickly into the second level for big gains. The former Memphis Tiger didn’t play a lot his rookie year even when both Gurley and Malcolm Brown were out with injuries. He rushed for just 147 yards averaging 3.8 yards/carry, along with 37 receiving yards.

Expect Henderson to be a change of pace alternative back for Akers and to be a mismatch in the passing game. Don’t be surprised if he overtakes Akers as the lead back.

Malcolm Brown

The only true veteran in the room, Malcolm Brown got his opportunity with the Rams back in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. He later became number two on the depth chart last season.

Brown is more of a goal-line threat with excellent balance. He is one of the league’s best backups, who could be the starter in week 1 given his knowledge of the playbook and leadership role.

The only problem with Brown is injuries. A clavicle injury sidelined him during the final stretch of the 2018 campaign. Then last year he couldn’t stay healthy enough to split carries with Gurley.

Look for him to be number three on the depth chart and used in goal-line situations. 

More depth

Rounding up the group is John Kelly – a sixth-round draft pick entering his third year. Kelly has been in and out of the roster ever since his arrival. However, the Rams kept him around because they think he can be special. A long shot to make the 53 man roster but we might see him in action if anyone goes down with an injury (like last year).

Also present at camp is Xavier Jones, an undrafted rookie coming from Southern Methodist where he set multiple records. As a shifty back, he is looking great in training camp. However, he has a slim chance of making the week 1 roster.

Conclusion

So far, the word from training camp is that Akers is picking up things fast and turning quite a few heads. There are also reports of a noticeable improvement from Darrell Henderson. Still, there is no clear cut favorite for the Rams top running back spot. 

Sean McVay will likely use the lack of film on his young running backs to his advantage and make defenses pay for their underestimation of the running game. Look for the first quarter of the season to feature a run-heavy offense to establish a credible rushing threat. Then, use this success to set up the play-action pass for the rest of the season.

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4 Comments

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Rita Palomino

August 27, 2020

Me gustó, está muy bien docunentado , análisis minucioso de la poderosa ofensiva terrestre de los RAMS.

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Vico Simmons

August 25, 2020

Yeah, Go Rams!

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Raúl Corona Vázquez

August 25, 2020

Excelente artículo..tradicionalmente corredores punto fuerte en la ofensiva de LA Ramos.

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Vico

August 25, 2020

Nice! Good info.

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