For continuity’s sake
While the Rams will likely restore both Brian Allen to their pre-injury, pre-COVID starting roles, I think that could be a mistake. A year ago, the LA Rams replaced injured offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom at left guard with David Edwards. Even after Noteboom was healthy, Edwards remained in that role. It paid off when the Rams inserted Noteboom to anchor the team’s left tackle spot when Andrew Whitworth fell to injury.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Rams are on a two-game winning streak, thanks in no small part to the play of both Michel and Shelton. With both Allen and Henderson exhibiting a high-frequency rate of injuries, the Rams would benefit from the continuity of having the same players starting for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Hard truth? Neither Henderson’s nor Allen’s track record has been very good in that department so far this season.
For Henderson, he has suited up for 10 of 14 games. Even when he plays, he averages just 14 carries a game. It’s a very difficult spot to be in for the Rams offense to attempt to commit to running the football 20+ times with a running back who simply cannot withstand the wear and tear that comes with it.
COVID chaos counts too
The LA Rams have been decimated by a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, at one point reporting up to 29 players ineligible to compete. One of the first Rams players to test positive this round was running back Darrell Henderson Jr.
The LA Rams were forced to redraft Sony Michel back to the starting role against the Arizona Cardinals. That was with little warning, and Michel performed admirably. At the same time, the LA Rams learned that offensive tackle Rob Havenstein had tested positive, and turned to their swiss army knife backup, Joseph Noteboom, to handle the starting assignment on the right side of the offensive line.
Allen did not test positive just yet, but he was still unable to go due to a knee injury. That meant that the LA Rams would need to rely upon center Coleman Shelton to start against the Arizona Cardinals. Shelton played well, and so did the Rams.
Sony Michel is the type of running back that the LA Rams need for a playoff run. He runs with confidence and authority, oftentimes plunging into a group of defenders, only to fall to the ground five yards upfield. Much of that success is the fact that Coleman Shelton loves to get moving on running plays and back two, three, or even four defenders who are trying to set a position to make the play. That’s the style of play that has recharged this offense.
Staying healthy is crucial at this point in the season. The healthiest team is often the winning team. Shelton is a rock of dependability so far.