Specific position battles are always intriguing to watch during OTAs (organized team activities), and for a team like the St. Louis Rams with a changing of the guard at the running back position, that couldn’t be any more the case. Long-time ball carrier Steven Jackson will be wearing the red and black of the Atlanta Falcons in the upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean the Rams will completely abandon what has been a primarily ground based attack in 2013.
There was a reason the team selected Isaiah Pead in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and even though seventh rounder Daryl Richardson trumped him for playing time a year ago, Pead will likely figure prominently in the Rams’ plans for the 2013 season. How OTAs figure into this equation is that these workouts will give a first look at just how the team has assessed the running back position this offseason. The number of reps that Pead sees with the first team offense will be a good indicator of what will be expected from him in the upcoming season.
How OTAs really pertain to Pead more than any other back for the Rams is the fact that this will be his first experience with the workouts. Last year due to the NCAA and its late graduation rules, Pead was forced to miss the Rams’ OTAs due to the University of Cincinnati’s academic schedule. The seventh round pick Richardson received those valuable reps last offseason and ultimately beat Pead out for valuable playing time as a rookie. That won’t be the case this time around.
Pead figures to be a perfect fit with the way the Rams have constructed their new look offense over the past two offseasons under General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher. He is the ideal fit for a spread offense that likes to get a defense scattered all over the field where Pead could find holes to cut through and pick up big chunks of yardage. The additions of players like Chris Givens and Brian Quick last offseason along with Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and tight end Jared Cook this time around show that the Rams are committed to having a wide open attack on offense.
His experience in a spread offensive attack will help him to adjust quickly, and his time in the offseason program this year will at least put him on even footing with his competition at the position. Pead was thought to have some of the best one-cut and go skills of any running backs in last year’s draft class, and that type of skill set will serve him well in this new look offense. How he looks in OTAs will have a lot to do with how much playing time to expect for him going forward, and things are definitely looking up for last year’s second rounder.