It didn’t take long for Daryl Richardson to ascend from the lowest on the backfield totem pole to the top of the heap. In just one offseason, Richardson has progressed from the least experienced member of the St. Louis Rams backfield to the veteran presence of the group. Now granted, calling the second-year back a seasoned vet may be a bit of a stretch at this juncture, but there is no denying the fact that no other back on the depth chart has more career carries or yards on the ground than Richardson.
That fact alone isn’t going to warrant the starting gig seven yards deep behind quarterback Sam Bradford on a regular basis, however. Richardson was actually chosen well after a fellow 2012 NFL draftee in Isaiah Pead who was a second round selection as opposed to D-Rich who went in the seventh. Pead didn’t see much action in his rookie campaign, but his draft status suggests that the team expects him to develop into a force in the near term.
Zac Stacy has also been added into the backfield mix as a fifth round rookie out of Vanderbilt. While Pead and Richardson are nearly identical at 5’10” 197lbs., Stacy offers that punch for short yardage situations in a bowling ball-like package at 5’8” 216lbs. He will likely be used situationally for the team in his first year, but the lion’s share of the carries will fall on either Richardson or Pead.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to handicap a race where you are only familiar with one of the competitors. Pead didn’t show much in terms of film from a year ago, and Richardson beat him out for reps for a reason as a rookie. Clearly the Rams see things that they like in both backs, and their versatility to be used in the passing game has to be part of that equation. The Rams figure to be a much more wide open offensive team in 2013 and these two guys will be a big part of that attack.
Obviously the reason the Rams are auditioning for their starting tailback spot is because of the departure of stalwart Steven Jackson from their backfield this offseason. The decade long rusher for the team exercised his option to opt out of the final year of his deal and signed with the Atlanta Falcons earlier in free agency. His presence will be tough to replace for the Rams in more ways than one which is why this running back by committee approach seems to be the most viable.
Training camp will be crucial in determining who ultimately wins out for first string reps as the team’s running back. Even though someone will eventually be designated as the starter, it’s hard to believe that everyone won’t get their hands on the football on a regular basis.