Sean McVay won't commit to a No. 1 running back as Rams' Todd Gurley replacement
McVay will let things play out in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Rams offense rode the saddle of Todd Gurley over the past three seasons, as the former All-Pro running back was the bell cow of the unit since coach Sean McVay arrived in 2017. Los Angeles moved on from Gurley this offseason and is trying a different approach to the running game.
With second-round pick Cam Akers, veteran Malcolm Brown and 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson in the fold, the Rams will try a running-back-by-committee to get their offense back among the NFL's elite. Which of those three will get the first crack at being the featured back? That's still up in the air.
"I think that's to be determined based on how things play themselves out and when we get a chance to actually compete in practice and in those live opportunities," McVay said, via ESPN's Lindsey Thiry. "What we wanted to do was get a group that we felt really good about. This enables us to say, 'We're not necessarily committed to any approach, it's a feel for the flow of the game.' But you'd like everybody to create a role for themselves, and we'll see what ends up happening then."
Brown would appear to be the front-runner for the job based on experience, but he might be best suited for a No. 2 role or as a goal-line back. Brown rushed for 255 yards on 69 carries and five touchdowns as the backup to Gurley last season.
Henderson carried the ball 39 times for 147 yards in his rookie season, playing sparingly in 13 games as the third option. Akers could be in line to take over as the No. 1 back after rushing for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns (5.0 yards per carry) behind a poor offensive line in his junior season at Florida State. Akers' explosiveness and physical play translate toward becoming a three-down back at the NFL level, but he might need time to get his feet wet in the league.
"It's to be determined," McVay said of Akers. "What he does is he adds great value to that group."
The Rams could have a dynamic group with Akers, Henderson and Brown as the three will keep each other fresh throughout the season -- unlike previous years where Gurley would wear down late from overuse. If the Rams' offensive line holds up, the rushing attack could be a strength again.
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