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Countdown to Camp 2016 - Running Backs

Posted Jul 28, 2016

In the penultimate Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons breaks down Todd Gurley and the Rams' running backs.

With two days before camp begins, we’ve reached our penultimate Countdown to Camp with a breakdown of Los Angeles’ running backs. If you’ve got a question on our final group, quarterbacks, be sure to send it over via Twitter, Facebook, or leave it in the comments below.

RUNNING BAKCS

Newcomers: Aaron Green, Terrence Magee

When it comes to the Rams running backs, the conversation begins and ends with Todd Gurley. There aren’t many fresh superlatives left to describe the Georgia product, who earned the honor of 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and a trip to the Pro Bowl with his excellent first season.

Given everything Gurley accomplished as a rookie, it’s easy to forget that this time last year, there was some question of if he’d even be available to practice at the start of camp. Then, he didn’t receive his first in-game snaps until Week 3. Really, the second half of the Week 4 victory at Arizona was the first time Gurley showed why the Rams selected him at No. 10, as he rushed for 144 yards in the final two quarters.

From there, Gurley became a star. His 566 yards rushing were the most in a players first four starts in the Super Bowl era, and he was the first rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 125 yards in four consecutive games. He finished the year with 1,106 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in just 12 starts.

Because he is so talented and effective as a runner, there’s no doubt Gurley will be the focal point of the offense in 2016. Plus, he’s now another year out from his ACL tear. It’s often said that it takes a until that second year for a player to get back to full strength after that particular injury. And if that’s the case for Gurley, look out, NFL.

Behind Gurley, Benny Cunningham is back on a one-year deal from his original-round restricted free agent tender. Cunningham has been an effective third-down back — particularly because of his blocking skills — and kick returner for the Rams for the last couple years. In 2015, Cunningham caught 26 passes for 250 yards. He was also No. 4 with a 28.6-yard kick return average.

After spending much of last year on the practice squad, Malcolm Brown made his debut in the Rams’ Week 17 contest at San Francisco, rushing for 17 yards on four carries. Brown will likely compete with undrafted rookie Aaron Green for one of the final RB spots on the 53-man roster. Green rushed for 1,272 yards and 11 touchdowns on 244 carries in his senior year at TCU.

Chase Reynolds re-signed with the club on a one-year deal in March. He’s been one of the Rams’ special teams aces for the last few years, and will continue to play an integral role on the unit.

Also returning to the club is full back Zach Laskey, who spent 2015 on the Rams’ practice squad. L.A. signed running back Terrence Magee — who bounced between the Ravens’ active roster and practice squad in 2015 — to its roster in June.

Tre Mason currently remains on the roster as well. Head coach Jeff Fisher will likely address his situation after Saturday’s practice.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Good question. I think we may see some substitutions on a case-by-case basis because not all third-down situations are created equal.

One of the benefits of having Cunningham is his excellence in pass protection and as a pass catcher. That’s why he’s often been in the backfield for third downs over the past couple of years.

Gurley, however, is such a great player that you don’t want to take his talent off the field too often. He also has shown an ability to effectively pass block when he’s been called upon. But on the other hand, that’s also not exactly his best use when he’s on the field.

I think the third-down back is something the Rams might have to feel out for a couple of games in order to get into a real rhythm with it. You’re likely going to have different personnel on 3rd-and-2 than you’ll have on 3rd-and-8. So having options at running back is probably a good problem to have.

Thanks for your question, Edison. If you’ve got a question on our last Countdown to Camp position group, quarterbacks, be sure to send it over via Twitter, Facebook, or leave it in the comments below.

PREVIOUSLY ON COUNTDOWN TO CAMP

July 20 - Special Teams
July 21 - Linebackers
July 22 - Wide Receivers
July 23 - Cornerbacks
July 24 - Tight Ends 
July 25 - Safeties
July 26 - Offensive Line
July 27 - Defensive Line