While the Rams could figure to upgrade at a variety of positions in May’s draft, the team has perhaps never been more confident in who will carry the load at running back in 2014.
Rams General Manager Les Snead expects the second-year back only figures to build upon his rookie season, a year that featured 973 rushing yards in just 14 games, including 12 starts.
“I think he should be more productive because he’ll have more carries,” Snead said, alluding to Stacy’s position as the Rams’ feature back entering next season. “When we drafted him, he’s got nice patience, a nice vision, and if you really analyze running backs, a lot of those guys are the most successful. Because of those traits, it makes you think he can keep continue doing it.”
Stacy, who was a fifth-round selection out of Vanderbilt University last year, established himself as perhaps the signature member of the Rams’ offense in 2013, tallying four games of 100 or more yards rushing, despite not receiving a start until the fifth game of the season.
While entering the season entrenched as the team’s starter will naturally lead to a boost in volume for Stacy, Snead also emphasized the need to keep the second-year back fresh through the year to maximize his effectiveness in the season’s final weeks.
Upon being named the team’s starter in Week 5, Stacy received 25 or more carries in five of his 12 starts, the most such games of any Rams running back since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995. The high carry count was in part a product of a run-oriented offense that was amplified following QB
Despite the heavy workload, Stacy’s production did not wane in the latter weeks of the year, as he posted consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 15 and 16. Still, the prospect of Stacy starting each of the Rams’ 2014 games could mean the back may receive a more occasional respite in the season’s first half.
“In our league, you want to have him fresh in December and January versus October,” Snead said.
Snead’s outlook on the Rams’ running back situation represents a successful development of Stacy, whom the Rams drafted last spring in hopes of finding a long-term successor to Steven Jackson, who had held the mantle of feature back in St. Louis for the preceding eight seasons.
It would appear the Rams are preparing Stacy for a long-term stay as well.