Signing John Kelly to practice squad gives Rams insurance at running back

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Rams signed running back John Kelly to the practice squad after trimming down the 53-man roster this past weekend.

Around this time last year, John Kelly was coming off an impressive preseason campaign with the Los Angeles Rams to make it seem like he would find some sort of small role for the team on offense.

Since Todd Gurley is normally a workhorse in the backfield, it has been difficult at times for other Rams running backs to find significant playing time during the regular season, but also Kelly’s preseason potential made it seem like Sean McVay would figure out some sort of plan.

Instead, Kelly only saw action in four games for Los Angeles, and finished his first NFL season with just 74 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

With Gurley and Malcolm Brown both dealing with injuries towards the end of the regular season, Kelly was in the perfect position to see significant action during the month of December, so it was disappointing to see him only display these kind of numbers.

To make things even more difficult for Kelly heading into his second year with the Rams, the team decided to use a third-round pick on former Memphis star Darrell Henderson during April’s draft, meaning Kelly was already at a disadvantage being deep on the depth chart.

The good news at the time for Kelly leading up to Saturday’s deadline for roster cuts was that if any running back was going to be cut, Justin Davis seemed to be the leading candidate.

But in typical Rams fashion, McVay and company pulled off a bit of a surprise by only keeping three running backs on the 53-man roster, meaning Kelly was heading to the practice squad.

For obvious reasons, it’s easy to understand the frustration for Kelly since with Gurley’s situation, 2019 seemed like a perfect opportunity to prove he was ready to make some sort of impact on offense for Los Angeles.

However, if Kelly is looking for a reason to remain positive over the situation, the young running back should look no further than the fact that having him on the practice squad shows the Rams realize the importance of keeping him around for insurance purposes.

No matter how much Los Angeles wants to claim that all is fine with Gurley, these statements should be viewed as meaningless until the running back steps on the actual field during a meaningful game to show there are no setbacks.

In other words, if the Rams eventually called Kelly up to the active roster in the next few weeks to help take some of the pressure off Gurley and the rest of the running backs, no one would be surprised one bit.

At the end of the day, the potential is certainly there for someone like Kelly, and it’s safe to say that Los Angeles never would have signed him to the practice squad if there weren’t some sort of hope he will make a serious impact down the road.

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The move of Kelly to the Rams practice squad was one of the more surprising ones from this past weekend, but at least for now, it makes sense until Los Angeles absolutely needs him.