LA Rams rushing offense may feature tiny mighty mo running backs once more

Ronnie Rivers Los Angeles Rams
Ronnie Rivers Los Angeles Rams / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The LA Rams could certainly use a big ole power back on the roster when the regular season starts in a couple of weeks. But so far, the performance of RB Ronnie Rivers is shutting down almost every path that either RB Royce Freeman or rookie RB Zach Evans has of sneaking in the back door and suddenly appearing on the Rams initial 53-man roster.

And while that may not be very good news for the LA Rams roster as a whole, its great news for the 5-foot-9 195-pound running back who knew entering Rams training camp that he had to outperform any and all of his teammates to have a shot at making the Rams roster.

And that is what he's done in preseason so far.

After putting up six rushes for 31 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers, Ronnie Rivers doubled down by running nine times for 42 yards against the Las Vegas Raiders. So far, he has rushed 15 times for 73 yards, averaging nearly 4.9 yards per run.

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Is Rivers durable enough for a 17 game season?

While those numbers are very impressive, and clearly sets him up as the frontrunner for the third and likely final slot for a running back on the initial Rams roster, there are concerns that go with how the Rams running back depth is shaking out.

We know that even with pads on and competition against other NFL teams and players who are also trying to earn a spot on their own respective rosters, preseason games are vanilla offenses and defenses. So that gives an advantage to an elusive speedy running who may not need to process cutback lanes, pickup blitzing defenders, or simply slip out of the backfield for a surprising pass reception. In fact, the Rams have not targeted Rivers once in two preseason games.

Last season, Rivers played 25 offensive snaps, and ran with the football nine times for 21 yards, and caught five of five passes thrown his way for 29 yards. If he makes the LA Rams roster for the 2023 NFL season, does he deliver more of the same? Or is he simply showcasing how the Rams offense will feature RB Kyren Williams this year, and offer little to no additional range of plays once the season starts.

Freeman is falling behind

That concentration of similar playing styles is why I have been hoping for a solid showing out of veteran running back Royce Freeman. Freeman is unique in that he stands 6-foot-0 and weighs a robust 238 pounds. But in two preseason games so far, he has rushed just nine times for 32 yards, which is just a 3.6-yards per-run average. Freeman managed to catch two of four passes thrown his way for three yards.

With the Rams 2022 experience with running backs Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, and Ronnie Rivers resulting in less than ideal results on the ground, I hoped that the Rams would give some consideration to getting bigger backs in the backfield. With rookie Zach Evans, and veteran Royce Freeman, that part of the plan seemed to be going the right direction.

But the Rams love those little runners. And the success of tiny might mo runners in this offense are not going to dissuade the Rams of getting bigger any time soon,

If the Rams trend continues, the biggest runner on this roster will be Cam Akers. And behind him, the Rams will back him up with Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers, just like the 2022 NFL season. Will anything change? Who knows. But insanity is consistently adding the same input and expecting a different outcome.

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Stay tuned . . .