When Head Coach Jeff Fisher was hired to take over the St. Louis Rams, many believed that his offensive philosophy would revolve around the running game. That meant an increased workload for one of the league’s most historically durable ball carriers in Steven Jackson and less pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford. Unfortunately the durability has been an issue for Jackson and the Rams have been forced to rely on two rookies to help carry the load in the backfield.
In the team’s most recent practice, Jackson watched as rookies Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson got the bulk of the reps. The veteran has been hampered by a nagging groin injury and hasn’t been able to do much outside of gameday for the past two weeks. According to Jackson: “The younger backs are coming along pretty good. Daryl has done a good job of spelling me, a great change of pace back for me. As a unit, we’re pretty solid. I continue to show them what it means to be a pro, day in and day out.”
Richardson was the second to last selection in April’s draft while Pead was taken midway through the second round. Still the competition between the two has been fierce throughout camp and now into the regular season. Despite the higher draft status, Richardson has far outdone Pead to this point with 119 yards rushing and three catches for 23 yards. Pead has yet to have an NFL carry and has just one catch for four yards.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer likes the competition he’s seen, saying: “I think it’s great for Isaiah. It’s a little bit of a challenge for him at a young stage of his career to learn that, hey, in this league you’re not guaranteed anything.” Richardson has embraced a similar outlook as he said: “If you’re drafted in the first round, second round or wherever, you’ve got to work hard, man. That’s the big thing I hang my hat on, work ethic. The only thing I wanted was a chance to even be here, just to get the opportunity.”
To this point, Richardson has certainly maximized his opportunity keeping pace with Jackson in rushing yards to this point in the year. Still Jackson expects to be ready come Sunday as he said: “If I can’t get out there Friday, we still have 48 hours before the game to give us some more healing time. It’s one of those things, as much rest as possible.”
This situation is very fluid as injuries can sometimes magically disappear when the adrenaline starts flowing on gameday. Still keep your eye on this situation as the Rams will likely look to establish the run early against the Seattle Seahawks and one of the league’s best defenses statistically.
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