How will LA Rams replace rookie RB Jake Funk, gone for the season?

Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports /

When the LA Rams drafted running back Jake Funk in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the position seemed to be quite deep. The team boasted Cam Akers, Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, Darrell Henderson, and even Otis Anderson. Today, only Darrell Henderson remains on the active roster. Otis Anderson was cut, but for the rest?

One by one, each running back has suffered a devastating injury that has forced them to miss the 2021 season. Cam Akers and Xavier Jones suffered Achilles Tendon injuries that forced them to miss the 2021 season before it ever started. Raymond Calais suffered a foot injury. Now Jake Funk suffered a hamstring injury.

The team had used Funk almost exclusively on special teams but did use him on offense in Weeks 2 and 3 when Darrell Henderson injured his ribs. For the season, Funk had rushed once for six yards, made two tackles, and returned four kickoffs for 88 yards.

Funk’s hamstring injury occurred in a game immediately after he reported suffering hamstring tightness that limited him in practice. He played anyway and now requires surgery.  The Rams are now down to Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel on the active 53-man roster. So how can the Rams refill Funk’s slot on the team?

Practice squad promotion?

We know that the team added speedy running back Javian Hawkins to the practice squad earlier in the season. At 5-foot-9 and 196-pounds, he is built in the Darrell Henderson model. That is, he is a smaller faster running back that is particularly adept at threatening the defensive perimeter. While he signed with the Rams, he may not be ideally suited for the special teams’ role that Funk has vacated.

A better fit for the team’s vacancy is 6-foot-1 225-pound running back Buddy Howell. Howell is a coverage unit aficionado, a former gunner for the Houston Texans who was cut this year. That alone makes Howell perfectly suited for the role on the Rams team right now. You see, Howell is the biggest and baddest back of the bunch when it comes to the LA Rams right now.  Right now, the Rams could use a bigger back. Keep in mind that the team has also lost TE Johnny Mundt. Can Howell be that multi-tasked offensive player who could block as well as carry the ball in short-yardage situations?

Howell was brought on board to give the offense a big back option. Now, it is time to bring Howell into the fold, and see if Buddy Howell is indeed a diamond-in-the-rough as we believe him to be. Howell has already maxed out in terms of promoting to the roster twice from the practice squad, both times to be used on special teams. It only makes sense for the team to promote him to the 53-man roster for the rest of the year.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the LA Rams have a true power-back option on the roster on short-yardage downs near the goal line?