THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Week 5 provided Rams their first extensive look at and running back Sony Michel could potentially complement one another in Week 5 against the Seahawks.
The result: A combined 28 carries for 119 yards (good for 4.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in a 26-17 Los Angeles win at Seattle.
"I think so," Rams head coach Sean McVay said postgame last week, when asked if that was the carry share he was seeking between both players from a complementary standpoint. "I think when you end up saying 14 and 11, that's a good balance, but they did a nice job tonight. Each game is kind of it's own entity, but I thought tonight they spelled each other, did a great job. (Assistant head coach/running backs coach) Thomas Brown does an excellent job with that group."
As the Rams navigate the remainder of the season, finding that proper balance will be important to the overall balance of the offense.
McVay in training camp said it's never been about ability, just availability with Henderson, who has dealt with season-ending ankle injuries toward the end of the 2019 and 2020 seasons and also missed one game this season due to a rib cartilage injury. Meanwhile, Michel was acquired in late August and didn't see meaningful snaps until Week 3 against the Bucs in wake of Henderson's rib injury.
It's helpful that both players are also adept at pass protection, which helps both stay on the field. They also are capable of breaking off explosive runs, as seen by Michel's 15-yard run and Henderson's 29-yard run against the Seahawks. Both can also excel inside the 5-yard line, as evidenced by Henderson's 5-yard touchdown run and Michel's 2-yard touchdown run.
"It's hard to stop either of one us when we're fresh," Henderson said after Wednesday's practice. "So the main plan is to keep one, keep everybody fresh and when we fresh, we going to show everybody what we capable of doing. Now we just gotta be consistent and be able to bring it every week."
"I can raise my level of play," Michel said after Thursday's practice. "It makes me a better player, makes him a better player individually, and it helps the team ultimately."
Being able to have multiple running backs to count on his a commonality among the majority of the league's top rushing teams – the Browns, Cowboys, Titans, Ravens and Bills all deploy at least two with regularity.
Rams quarterback Stafford said he "definitely" thinks the Rams have a difference-making 1-2 punch in Henderson and Michel.
"Both those guys do a little bit of everything really well, in my opinion," Stafford said after Wednesday's practice. "It's not like we have one guy that does this and the other guy that does the other thing. They both catch a ball out of the backfield well. They both pass protect well. They both run the ball well, inside and outside. So we've got really two guys that are really solid running backs in this league. It's great because that's a physical position, that's a position that takes a pounding. These guys are around the ball, between the tackles a bunch and the ability to have one guy sit out for a series and have another guy come in and you don't miss a beat, that's impressive stuff. And it really helps us as an offense."