How will the LA Rams distribute carries this week?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have done a magnificent job os balancing out carries. But with RB Cam Akers sidelined, who gets his carries this week?

The LA Rams are a run-first team. Forget what you saw from the team in 2019, the 2020 Rams is the norm. So far, the Rams have rushed 111 times and passed 90 times. And of the rushes so far, the Rams have rushed Malcolm Brown 36 times for 145 times and two touchdowns, Darrell Henderson 35 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and Cam Akers (inactive) 17 times for 52 yards.

Based on the current distribution, the obvious conclusion is that the Rams would feature a healthy Cam Akers rushing the ball in this one to continue his development. But he is still nursing a rib injury, and will not be carrying the ball in this one. So how will the Rams distribute the load? Well, the Rams have plenty of options.

Stay with tried and tested

Of course, the LA Rams could go back to the hot hand and legs of Darrell Henderson. After putting up just six yards in the season opener, he has unloaded with 12 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, followed by 20 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown. He’s clearly hit his stride with the LA Rams offense now, and he has displayed remarkable patience whenever the ball is in his hands.

He bursts through the hole so rapidly that defenders are often left in the dust. As good as he is running, he remains a bit of a liability in the passing game. He is only catching 50 percent of the passes thrown his way, and he is a smaller bodied running back, which means he needs help picking up blitzes.

The Rams could opt to go to the established running back Malcolm Brown. After getting a lot of work in the opener with 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns, he only had 11 touches for 47 yards in week two, and a paltry seven touches for 19 yards in week three. That erosion in his production could be just a lull, or it could be a symptom of nagging bumps and bruises.

After all, Brown has been masterful in picking up blitzes and keeping his quarterback protected in the pocket.  Brown has not been effective as a receiver, as he too has only been successful 50 percent of the time at catching balls thrown his way. The Giants could recharge his production.

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Fresh legs X-man

The Rams have carried running back Xavier Jones on the active roster. Should the team give him a chance? We know that Jones beat almost astronomical odds by making the active roster despite signing after the 2020 NFL Draft. But he had a very impressive training camp and raised some eyebrows. So far, he has been exclusively special teams, but he is getting more work with each game. Has he graduated to the offense yet?

Well, we know that Henderson is getting a lot of work, but the Rams intended him to be the change of pace back. We know that Brown is more of a workhorse, but diminishing production puts that one into question.  So why not put Xavier Jones to the test? It needn’t be 20 plus carries. Just a short 4-8 touches in the game to give Henderson a break. After all, it’s a good time to learn what Jones can do, right?

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RB Raymond?

Finally, the Rams signed Raymond Calais to the active roster from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad. At the time, the belief was the 5-foot-9 180-pound running back would be earmarked to augment the LA Rams return game. After all, he was lightning fast at 4.42-seconds 40-yard dash, and he plays even faster when he hits daylight on the football field.

He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 245th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. He created some buzz with his speed, as he is elusive and quick enough to make big gains in the NFL running game. So far, Calais has been primarily special teams coverage, although he did register one kick return for 15 yards against the Buffalo Bills. Is it time to give him a look on offense?

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The Rams have several options going into week four. But the trick is to ensure the team is ready to play all 16 games. To do that, the team may need to add another running back to the rotation until Cam Akers is able to carry the load once more.