The running back position has been widely talked about this off-season as among those where the competition going into 2014 is likely to be fierce. Daryl Richardson has, of course, long since departed for the New York Jets and Isiah Pead has struggled to make any real impact on the team. However, Rams fans may still think themselves fortunate with Zac Stacy looking to build on a highly promising 973-yard, 7 touchdown rookie campaign in 2013 and this year’s third round draft pick, Tre Mason, also expected to make significant contributions. Other backs may find themselves wondering where (or even if) they will fit in behind these two. After a solid performance against New Orleans on Saturday, former undrafted free agent Chase Reynolds may be a good third option.
With six carries for 46 yards and one 10-yard reception, Reynolds certainly contributed when called upon. The highlight was undoubtedly the trick play on 4th down with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter. Not only did Reynolds comfortably make the handful of yards required for the 1st down, a couple of nice lateral moves allowed him to take off down the field for a substantial gain. (Did anyone else notice the slightly smug look on Brian Schottenheimer’s face as the camera cut to the sideline after that one?) There was a sharpness and determination about Reynolds’ play that screamed out “I want a place on this team.” After the game, Reynolds tweeted a message of thanks to fans for the support he had been shown.
Looking ahead to Green Bay this weekend, the indications are that we will see a little more of the starters and established names on the field. This may mean that leading running back Zac Stacy gets considerably more than the four carries he picked against the Saints, with opportunities for Reynolds to shine potentially being reduced as a consequence. For a man on the periphery of the roster, making of the most of the carries he does get becomes even more important. I would expect to see more the same tenacity and desire from Reynolds against the Packers.
In September 2013, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, “You need multiple backs in this league.” Preseason, as we all know, is a time for coaches to experiment with their squads and players to do all they can to make themselves stand out from the competition and earn a spot among the final 53. With Michael Sam firmly back in the spotlight, others hoping to wear blue and gold next month may have to work even harder to get noticed. If Chase Reynolds is handed the ball and is able to take advantage of his opportunities in the remaining preseason fixtures, who is to say he will not be able to leap-frog over Benny Cunningham on the roster?