One player who has unexpectedly impressed over the past two weeks for the St. Louis Rams, is third round draft pick Tre Mason. Against two premier defenses in the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, who rank near the top in stopping the run, the former Auburn running back has rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on only 22 carries.
What was odd about last week’s win against the Seahawks, was that, although healthy, the usual starting running back, Zac Stacy, who brought a spark to the offense last season, only got one snap the entire game.
Call it a sophomore slump, but the fact of the matter is, Stacy has been unimpressive in 2014. The second year running back out of Vanderbilt only has 240 yards on the ground this season and is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. To put that in perspective, quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have more rushing yards than Stacy, and NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray had over 240 yards after week two.
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The Rams arguably have four running backs that are capable of taking the reigns in Stacy, Mason, Cunningham, and Watts, however, Cunningham and Watts are more complimentary guys, while Stacy and Mason are more built to receive the bulk of the carries.
Due to the Rams’ significant depth at the position, many questioned why the Rams drafted Mason, however, after only getting his first action two weeks ago, the running back seems to be fitting right in and is finding his place in the offense.
Mason has been the more explosive and more productive back over the past two weeks having two runs that went over 20 yards, something that Stacy has yet to do this season. Mason has given the Rams offense that same spark that Stacy gave the offense just one year ago.
“It’s not easy just to step in and be the guy. You have to be an every down back. He’s done a great job.” -Jeff Fisher
Coach Jeff Fisher has been insistent about sticking with the hot hand in their running back by committee system. If anything, over the past two weeks Mason has at least given Fisher something to think about. Despite a near disastrous late fumble, Mason has been effective for the most part and has positioned himself for more work moving forward.
Whether or not Stacy has lost his starting spot has yet to be determined, but only getting one snap despite supposedly being healthy can’t be a good sign. If the Rams do in fact decide to stick with the hot hand, it looks like Mason just might be the guy.