When the Rams signed running back C.J. Anderson on Tuesday of Week 16, they knew they were getting a solid professional.
After all, Anderson had just rushed for 1,000 yards in 2017. He was an integral piece of the 2015 Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips noted that week that Anderson is "one of the reasons I have a Super Bowl ring."
But to get a game of 167 yards rushing, and follow that up with a game of 132 yards rushing — that's pretty off-the-charts production. And even though L.A. is absolutely expecting running back Todd Gurley to be healthy for the Divisional round matchup on Jan. 12, Anderson may have played himself into staying in a significant role on the offense.
"There's a chance. He's done a great job," head coach Sean McVay said on Thursday. "That's what we're fully anticipating — Todd's our starting running back. But I think, definitely, over the last couple weeks C.J.'s earned the right to be on the field. How much or what we end up doing is kind of to be determined, and a lot of that is predicated on our opponent. But, he's certainly earned the right to be on the field. He's done a great job these last couple weeks."
Check out the photos from the top offensive plays of the Rams 2018 regular season.
Anderson's 299 yards rushing on 43 attempts gives him a 7.0 yards per carry average. The running back himself on Thursday credited the offensive line — the "big boys," as he calls them — for setting him up for success.
"Just having fun, man. Picking the right spots," Anderson said. "The big boys are doing all the work — I'm just picking the right spots and it's working out for me. So I let my ability, which is to break tackles and things of that nature, let that work. But I need them as much as they need me, and I give them all the credit — they've been playing phenomenal up front. And I'm just trying to pick the right spots. So when '30' comes back, we can pick the right spots together."
While Anderson's production may come as a surprise to many, it really isn't to him. And even though bouncing from Carolina to Oakland to L.A. has not been an ideal situation, Anderson recognizes that it's part of the NFL.
"I learned a long time ago — I saw '18' get traded out for Andrew Luck," Anderson said, referring to Peyton Manning. "So, everybody's up. As a Hall of Fame player, who he is, and how he's approached the game for so many years — that's why everybody has an opportunity to be in the position this way. It was just my time this year."
Nevertheless, Anderson has been able to make the most of his opportunities. And while he's staying in the moment, not really reflecting on where the year has taken him, he said there could be a lesson in the way his season has gone for younger players.
"If they want to pay attention," Anderson said of that lesson. "It doesn't hit everybody until it happens to them. So I'll continue to share the wisdom of what's going on, but at the end of the day, no one's feeling sorry for myself — and I'm not feeling sorry for myself. It happened, and now we move on. I'm in this position now, and I'm trying to take advantage of this moment."
Clarence Dennis contributed reporting.