Hard Knocks 2020 Storylines: LA Rams Running Back

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

HBO Hard Knocks 2020 Storylines: LA Rams running back

The LA Rams have been selected (as well as the LA Chargers) to yet again be apart of the NFL’s summer tradition, which is HBO’s Hard Knocks. The announcement doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to me. After all, the now-$6-billion SoFi stadium is finally scheduled to open this fall after years of delays and construction.

The NFL definitely wants to capitalize on officially bringing in the Los Angeles market in the nationally televised broadcast that has been gaining in popularity with the nationally syndicated show from Home Box Office, more commonly recognized as HBO.  To complete the window dressing, but the LA Rams and LA Chargers rolled out new logos and uniforms, which signify the new era for both teams.

New Era

With it being a new era, this new chapter for the Rams is a bittersweet one.  It is also the first season of the team without one of the franchise’s best players in running back Todd Gurley. That means there must be a replacement, which also means that someone may have to go. Isn’t that the way it goes?

As the LA Rams focus on their challenges for this broadcast, the LA Chargers will have their own set of unique challenges to overcome.  They no longer have longtime veteran QB Phillip Rivers under center. Wow.

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Plan for running backs

Looking at this from a macro perspective, the Rams will emerge from this series with both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson intact. Both running backs were drafted high in the last two years and it just wouldn’t make sense for either running back to be cut from the roster as a result of the Hard Knocks curse.

The battle for the starting position will likely go to Cam Akers, as he was the first player selected by the team in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Although Darrell Henderson will have his share of touches, his role has been that of an add-on change of pace style of play.  Cam Akers will likely start and Darrell Henderson should be the backup. Of course, there are other players on the roster, and any could earn a spot on the roster for the 2020 NFL season.

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More in the mix

The Rams have two more veteran running backs that will be in the mix, but neither has odds better than that of a long-shot.  Both veteran Malcolm Brown and John Kelly will be working hard for their share of playing time, and perhaps even for a roster spot. Although Malcolm Brown has been a solid backup for the team in the past, he’s 27 years old right now and the Rams could go in another direction. If he’s cut, the team will recognize some modest cap savings, which continues to be important as the Rams need every penny.

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Also, the LA Rams will debut undrafted rookie running backs James Gilbert and Xavier Rhodes. Gilbert is a 5-foot-9 198-pound workhorse out of Kansas State. Although a smaller back, Gilbert is the type of running who is capable of taking it to the house anytime he touches the ball.  And that is exactly what his new rookie teammate does.  Rhodes is a 5-foot-11 208-pound scoring machine. He held the NCAA scoring title, as a running back, with 11.9 points per game average. In fact, he was given the title of Best Running Back Without An NFL Combine Invite, and for good reason. Part of the fun for this series?  Getting the chance to see the 22 new undrafted rookies perform for the Rams.

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It’ll be interesting to see what happens these next few months when the cameras go rolling. I hope Jared Goff now knows which direction the sun actually sets.