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Countdown to Camp: Running Backs

Posted Jul 28, 2015

In this edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons discusses whether Todd Gurley could start Week 1.

In today’s edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at the Rams’ running backs. Be sure to send in your question about tomorrow’s subject, offensive linemen, either in the comments or @MylesASimmons on Twitter.

RUNNING BACKS

Newcomers: Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Terrence Franks

After 2014, the Rams were already working with a solid stable of running backs. But with the addition of its first round pick, St. Louis has a chance to house one of the best groups in the league at the position.

Head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead said on draft night that they feel like Todd Gurley has a chance to be a special player, and that’s why he’s with the club. This week, Gurley passed his physical with flying colors and will be on the active roster for the start of training camp.

Even if Gurley is full go come Week 1, Tre Mason will likely still play a significant role within the offense. The Auburn product led the Rams with 765 yards rushing in 2014 -- a total that was second among all NFL rookies.

Heading into his third pro season, Benny Cunningham has developed into not only a strong third-down back, but also one of the league’s best kick returners. He led the NFC in return average with a 27.5-yard mark -- good enough for No. 5 overall.

An ACL tear suffered in the preseason sidelined Isaiah Pead for all of 2014, but the running back could make an impact this year if healthy. Trey Watts contributed on special teams and earned a few carries in his rookie season, but will be suspended for the first four games of 2015 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The Tulsa product is still eligible to participate in all of the Rams’ preseason practices and games.

After spending 2011 and 2012 on St. Louis’ practice squad, Chase Reynolds has become one of the team’s core special teams aces. He led the club with 19 special teams tackles last year.

Finally, the Rams also added two rookie running backs as undrafted free agents: Malcolm Brown out of Texas, and Terrence Franks out of Texas State.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

In each of our Countdown to Camp posts, we’ll feature one of your Twitter questions on the position group. Today’s Q comes from @bxgrisak1993.

Ah yes, that is the big question now, isn’t it? With news coming today that Gurley will avoid the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and participate in training camp practices from Day 1, yes, there is a possibility that Gurley could be in the starting lineup on Sept. 13 against the Seahawks.

But because it’s still July 28, I think it’s still too early to definitively say whether or not he’ll start the season’s first game. Remember, head coach Jeff Fisher almost always likes to be conservative with rookies. In 2014, first-round draft picks Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald didn’t move into the starting lineup until Week 6 against the 49ers. That was also the first game Mason began making his mark on the offense.

Given all that, I think it’s a little more probable that Mason begins the season as the starter. Still, if Fisher deems Gurley is ready either that week or soon after, the rookie will likely highly contribute to the offense and aid its success. But without having seen Gurley in a practice with pads -- or live preseason action for that matter -- it’s just a little too difficult to make any further conjecture.

Thanks for the question, Blaine. Fans, be sure to leave your question about the Rams’ offensive linemen in the comments below, or send it over to @MylesASimmons on Twitter and it could be featured right here in tomorrow’s Countdown to Camp.

COUNTDOWN TO CAMP - PREVIOUS POSTS

JULY 27 - DEFENSIVE LINE
JULY 26 - SAFETIES
JULY 25 - TIGHT ENDS
JULY 24 - CORNERBACKS
JULY 23 - WIDE RECEIVERS
JULY 22 - LINEBACKERS
JULY 21 - SPECIAL TEAMS

The Rams will begin training camp with a 3:30 p.m. practice at Rams Park on Friday, July 31. For more information, visit our official training camp page.