LA Rams: Otis Anderson Jr. proves “better late than never”

Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

When the LA Rams added former UCF running back Otis Anderson Jr. to the roster, there was a crowded room of rushers, all ahead of him on the depth chart, and no clear path to even a practice squad role. The team already had two returning rushers Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson primed to carry the lion’s share of the work. The team had both Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais returning as well, both hoping for a chance to prove their worth.

And to top it off, the team had drafted University of Maryland’s Jake Funk, who would compete for whatever scraps and special team roles might be available to a new and eager rookie. Otis Anderson Jr. arrived in June, long after the coaching staff had already become quite familiar with the five other running backs. Few expected him to stick on the LA Rams roster. He arrived late to the team and would be playing catch up for several weeks.

He stuck his nose in the playbook. He stuck his cleats on his feet. He set his hand in the dirt. And he stuck his ear in the direction of any coach or player who was willing to give him tips or help him improve his techniques. He didn’t get discouraged. He didn’t have enough time to do anything beyond suit up and try to make plays each day.

Injury outbreak

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

By July 2021, the LA Rams learned that Cam Akers, the running back that the team had intended to feature this season, was lost for the year due to an Achilles Tendon injury. Soon afterward, the team had lost running back Raymond Calais to injury too. And then, in the final preseason game, the team discovered that Xavier Jones had injured his Achilles Tendon as well, and would be the third running back lost to the team for 2021.  And so, the field of six running backs in June 2021 has shrunk to three running backs in August 2021.

The Rams front office, having witnessed the loss of three vital rushers before the season had even started, could stand it no longer. The team called around and finally found a suitable player who was available. And so, the LA Rams traded two future picks to the New England Patriots for running back Sony Michel.  Even now, Michel is learning the Rams playbook, and getting ready for the season opener. Hopefully, he will burst out his career-high performance for the Rams this season.

And what of Otis Anderson Jr.? He has been signed to the Rams practice squad. On some NFL teams, the story likely ends there. But for the LA Rams? Sticking around opens doors. Otis Anderson Jr. offers tremendous versatility to the team. Whether that means lining up in the backfield to run the ball, lining up on the outside to catch the ball, or simply lining up on special teams to return the ball, he is both capable and available to do so.

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Yes, Otis Anderson Jr. arrived late to the party. But better late than never. He’s got his foot in the door now. And if his past is any indication, it won’t be long before he’s earned himself a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.