THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Unfortunate as the setback of losing Cam Akers to a torn Achilles eight days before the start of training camp was, the timing of the injury gave the Rams plenty of time to assess how they wanted to handle the running back room moving forward, whether that meant adding "reinforcements," according to general manager Les Snead, or sticking with their current backfield.
A little over a month after evaluating their current options, the Rams arrived at the former, acquiring running back Sony Michel in a trade with the Patriots early Wednesday morning.
"Early in the down, we identified Sony for many reasons," Snead said during a video conference Wednesday. "Number one being his experience – meaning a player who's carried the ball in those big games, big moments, big drives, big series. The experience of where he played and how he was coached. He was one of those players that if we were going to go the route of experience, he was someone that we were definitely eyeing from the start."
When Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked at the start of training camp if they would pursue a more experienced option on the free agent market in wake of Akers' injury, McVay indicated there wasn't a rush to do so. The Rams would indeed take their time to look at their current options on the roster, using competitive situations in their own practices as well as joint practices with the Cowboys and Raiders as key evaluation opportunities. Instead of going through free agency, though, they acquired that experience via trade.
Michel has 38 career games under his belt, most among the Rams' current running backs followed by Darrell Henderson Jr.'s 28 and Xavier Jones' 13. It also provides much-needed depth to the group in wake of running back Raymond Calais suffering a foot injury against the Raiders last weekend.
Beyond the experience, Michel also offers a skillset that will complement the Rams' current running backs.
"That's going to be a complementary backfield," Snead said. "What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force. The physics that he brings to the table – let's call it a flavor of genre that we felt like complemented our group."
When asked if the Rams see Michel coming in and being a starting back or complementing Henderson, Snead deferred to McVay.
"I don't think we ever really talked through who starts, who doesn't, things like that," Snead said. "I think big picture, conceptually, we felt like, 'Okay, if we can add someone like Sony, a veteran, number one, come here, learn the offense. Number two, be a complement to Darrell, Jake (Funk) and Xavier (Jones), the guys we have here.' And then from there, figure out what each player does best and then go into Chicago. ... The roles would probably evolve, but Sean may have a more specific answer to that."
For now, according to Snead, the goal is to get Michel to Los Angeles this evening, and then get him with running backs coach/assistant head coach Thomas Brown to start learning the playbook as soon as possible.
Take a look back through the career of the newest Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel.