A week after making a statement with his first preseason carries, rookie running back John Kelly was looking for more.
Early in the second quarter of Los Angeles' 19-15 victory over Oakland, the Rams had 4th-and-goal at the Raiders' two-yard line. Kelly had already provided most of the offense following linebacker Ramik Wilson's fumble recovery that put Los Angeles at the opponent's 15. But after quarterback Sean Mannion was taken down for a sack on third down, head coach Sean McVay made the choice to put the ball in Kelly's hands.
"4th-and-2 for us? We had to have it, so, I mean, whatever I had to do to get into that end zone, that's what I was going to do," Kelly said of the situation.
The play, of course, ended up as a two-yard touchdown — the first trip to the end zone of Kelly's professional career. But it wasn't quite ideal, as cornerback Antonio Hamilton put a solid hit on the ball as the running back crossed the goal line, causing him to fumble.
Fortunately, Kelly was never far from the loose ball and scooped it up with one arm to secure the game's first scoring play.
And given that the Rams won the game, Kelly found a way to make a little light of the play following the game.
"Yeah, I got a fumble recovery — so I was padding stats," Kelly said to laughter from reporters.
"I tried to go over the top of the guy, he kind of put his helmet on the ball, and he helped me out because I got a fumble recovery," Kelly added. "And I got an opportunity to get in there and celebrate with my teammates. I told them we were going to roll the dice. So, it was a gambling thing, and it we literally did because I almost didn't get it in there. But that doesn't even matter anymore because we got the seven points."
Check out in-game photos from the Rams' first home preseason matchup against the Raiders at the Coliseum.
With running back Justin Davis nursing a hamstring injury, and McVay electing once again to rest 20 of 22 offensive and defensive starters, Kelly received the bulk of the carries during Saturday's game. He rushed 18 times for 56 yards, his longest run going 12 yards. He also caught a pair of passes for four yards.
And when a reporter mentioned that 18 number to Kelly, he admitted he actually didn't know how many carries he had.
"It was good," Kelly said. "I was just happy to get the snaps, be out there to get clicking with my teammates and everybody — just getting a good feel for the offense with a lot of the younger guys that were out there with me. So I thought it was pretty good."
Kelly has certainly made his mark in the first couple of preseason games, having rushed for 133 yards on 31 carries — good for an average of 4.3 yards per attempt. And he'll likely continue to have opportunities as the Rams go through their final two exhibition contests.
And whenever another test comes up like he had on that 4th-and-goal, Kelly wants the result to be no different.
"We've got to have it," he said. "Just in the running back room, if it's 3rd-and-short, any of those situations — it's a 'Gotta have it' play. So I was glad that I was able to get in the end zone for us."
The Rams will take on the Texans next Saturday at the Coliseum. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.