The LA Rams had sent RB Kyren Williams to injured reserve, due to a freakish injury that occured on special teams. Now, to say that the 5-foot-9 195-pound has had a run of bad luck is an overwhelming understatement. The rookie has now suffered his second injury before taking a single offensive snap. His first injury occured in training camp and required surgery on his foot.
His second injury occured to his ankle, and will also require surgery. That has put the LA Rams running back room in a bit of a tailspin. Williams was the rookie whose fresh legs were intended to power the Rams early in the season. We’d seen how RB Darrell Henderson was effective, but can only take the Rams so far due to managed workload.
We’d also seen how ineffective Cam Akers was in the season opener, not just at carrying the football, but in blocking defenders. So the first thought was to elevate practice squad running back Trey Ragas, and weave him into the offense.
But, Ragas is injured as well? That’s what we’ve learned today. And so, the Rams have made more moves, but unlike previous moves, this one feels less intriguing. Here’s what the team has done:
And here’s why this move feels underwhelming:
Ronnie Rivers is Kyren Williams clone
Looking at Ronnie Rivers‘ measurements, we find that he is listed at the same height and weight as injured RB Kyren Williams. The only difference is that Rivers has smaller hands and arms than Williams.
Because he is a smallish running back, you can toss the short yardage and big blocking needs for the team out of the backfield. In essence, the team is beginning to stack up running backs in the category of Darell Henderson Jr., smaller RBs who can attack the perimeter, who can work free and become a safety outlet in the passing game, and who are multi-dimensional. He tried out with the Arizona Cardinals and with the Seattle Seahawks. Rivers did not make the roster of either team, but he is rather versed with two of the LA Rams division rivals.
What the Rams have not gotten is a powerful running back who can move the chains with his legs, who can handle 25-30 carries in a game, or who can become a player who can be counted on to take the pressure off QB Matthew Stafford.
We know that the LA Rams do not see as much value in that type of running back, as the team neglected to re-sign RB Sony Michel twice in the offseason. But valued or not, we can point to three games in 2021 in which the dominating running style of Michel led directly to a victory for the Rams, victories that were integral in propelling the team to the NFC West title.
Once more, it appears that lessons learned don’t stick, and the Rams are loading up on smallish running backs who offer more in the way of change of pace than solid running against physical defenses.
Ronnie Rivers has been signed to the team’s practice squad, and that may be the last we hear from him. But it’s clear that the LA Rams rushing attack needs help, whether scheme or talent. Unfortunately, Rivers’ profile reads a lot like other RBs on the roster. And if the Rams want to change the direction of their offense, I fear that the first step is changing their fascination with small running backs.