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The next 7 games will tell Rams a lot about their ‘23 backfield…

November 23, 2022 08:08AM
The next 7 games will tell the Rams a lot about their 2023 backfield

[theramswire.usatoday.com]

Cameron DaSilva



And then there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams trimmed their backfield in a surprising way on Tuesday, waiving Darrell Henderson Jr., leaving just Cam Akers and Kyren Williams as the only running backs on the active roster.

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They started the year with three backs they really liked, and they planned to utilize all three before Williams got hurt in Week 1. But now that Williams is healthy and Akers remains on the team after a bizarre dispute before the trade deadline, the Rams apparently saw Henderson as expendable in this lost season.

So, he was cut.

It was a shocking and unexpected move, leaving the Rams without their leading rusher for the final seven games. But what this does is open the door for Akers and Williams to prove themselves.

Unlike Henderson, they’re both under contract in 2023 and one of them could conceivably be the team’s lead back. But they’ll need to earn that role because neither has done enough up to this point to tell the Rams they’re deserving of being a workhorse next season.

That’s why the next seven games are so important for Akers and Williams.

It’s unclear which one will get the bulk of the snaps and opportunities now that Henderson is gone. The last two weeks don’t tell us much, either. Williams out-snapped Akers, 35-25, on Sunday against the Saints, but Akers got 14 carries compared to seven for Williams. While Williams is unquestionably the better third-down back and has an edge in passing situations, Akers is getting more looks as a pure runner.

The Rams have seen what Akers can do in the 28 total games he’s played since 2020. He’s shown flashes of being a starting-caliber running back, but that was only in 2020. He’s been ineffective this season and only averaged 2.6 yards per carry last season, so the Achilles tear he suffered in 2021 has clearly had a negative impact.

The smart thing for the Rams to do would be to start Williams and give him the bulk of the reps. He’s a fifth-round rookie who the team traded up for, so clearly they like his potential. And he’s put together some good film in limited action so far. According to PFF, he’s averaging 3.63 yards after contact per carry, which bests both Akers (2.66) and Henderson (2.60).

And though he’s only touched the ball 12 times (8 carries, 4 receptions), he’s forced two missed tackles. That may not seem like much, but Akers has forced 10 on 78 touches and Henderson only forced nine on 87 touches.

If Williams plays well and looks like a solid starter the rest of the season, the Rams can feel comfortable not drafting another running back early in 2023. If both he and Akers can’t capitalize on the opportunity – albeit, behind a shaky offensive line – McVay will know running back will once again be a priority next year.

Henderson clearly wasn’t in the plans for 2023, so all he was doing was eating into Williams’ and Akers’ carries the rest of the way, which also would’ve done Henderson no favors as he enters free agency in March. So the Rams cleared the way for Williams and Akers to audition for the starting role in the next seven weeks.

Now it’s up to them to seize the opportunity.
SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

  The next 7 games will tell Rams a lot about their ‘23 backfield…

Rams43189November 23, 2022 08:08AM

  It'll be helpful for my mock drafts lol

Ram_Ruler49November 23, 2022 08:11AM

  Disagree: The draft will probably produce next years starting RB

David Deacon64November 23, 2022 08:13AM

  Re: Disagree: The draft will probably produce next years starting RB

Ram_Ruler61November 23, 2022 08:24AM

  Re: Disagree: The draft will probably produce next years starting RB

Rams4367November 23, 2022 09:13AM

  Re: Disagree: The draft will probably produce next years starting RB

303038November 23, 2022 09:24AM

  Much better. And for good reason

Ram_Ruler42November 23, 2022 09:26AM

  Pass on RB for the first pick (round 2)

Ekern5533November 23, 2022 07:41PM

  Problem is

Ram_Ruler47November 23, 2022 09:29AM

  That is a scary thought..

sstrams30November 23, 2022 01:11PM

  And that's why some teams struggle for years

Ramsdude34November 23, 2022 01:15PM

  Yeah, absolutely true..

sstrams29November 23, 2022 01:18PM

  They have 2 running backs

ferragamo7946November 23, 2022 09:16AM

  There's Malcolm Brown and Ronnie Rivers on the PS

NewMexicoRam41November 23, 2022 10:25AM

  Showcase Akers…draft Gibbs.....trade Akers on draft day

Rampage2K-57November 23, 2022 12:51PM

  Why do I think they won't draft him..

sstrams39November 23, 2022 01:13PM

  Re: Why do I think they won't draft him..

Thirtymac, The Intrepid Ram40November 23, 2022 02:33PM

  There ya go, Thirtymac..

sstrams37November 23, 2022 02:48PM