While this may not seem like that much of a newsflash given the fact that Daryl Richardson was listed atop the St. Louis Rams’ preseason depth chart at running back, the fact that his head coach came out and endorsed him with more than a month to go before the season opener is a big deal indeed.
Via the team’s official website, Jeff Fisher said:
“I think Daryl comes back as our starter. He played significantly more last year than anybody.”
For a backfield with no running backs in the NFL prior to the start of last season, experience is certainly a relative term. Richardson boasts the most among the crew of Isaiah Pead, rookie Zac Stacy, and himself, but he is by no means a seasoned vet. He isn’t lacking for confidence either as he told Tony Softi:
“I’m a good quality back. I feel I can do it all, be an every-down back.”
Regardless of Richardson’s feelings on his own ability, the Rams still figure to use their stable of backs rather than focus on one particular runner. Pead was the more highly touted player coming into the organization as a second round pick opposed to Richardson who was a seventh rounder, but his inability to adjust last season combined with a one-game suspension to begin the 2013 campaign gives Richardson the upper hand. Stacy is certainly built with more power than either Pead or Richardson, but there will be a learning curve for him in year one.
The idea of a starting running back seems more like semantics than anything when it comes to the Rams’ backfield battle. It’s likely the team will go with the hot hand throughout the season and develop specific game plans week-to-week based on who the upcoming opponent is.
It’s certainly a positive that Fisher has some confidence in Richardson and the young back has no shortage of self-assurance in his own right. That belief will be important when the going gets tough at inevitable points during the upcoming season. The Rams must keep the offense balanced to keep quarterback Sam Bradford clean on a consistent basis, regardless of who enjoys the lion’s share of the carries.