“It’s just football": No jitters for Darrell Henderson in first Rams game

Nerves? What nerves?

Last week’s preseason opener at Oakland was no different than any other football game for Rams rookie running back Darrell Henderson.

“It’s just football, it’s just a different level,” Henderson said. “You’ve still got to stay humble and stay focused. You’ve got to flush everything else and get your mind right.”

What he put on film in his L.A. debut offered both positives and things to build on, according to Rams coach Sean McVay.

Henderson’s six rush attempts for 13 yards led all Los Angeles players who recorded carries in the Rams' 14-3 loss to the Raiders. He also added one reception for a five-yard loss.

McVay said on Sunday the plan for Henderson going into the Raiders game was for Henderson to get his feet wet, though he also expects to gradually increase Henderson’s touches as the preseason progresses.

“I think he’s a really conscientious player, doesn’t really get fazed by things,” McVay said “But there were some, just little subtle things about the game (he needs to work on), whether it’s when you’re picking up internal pressure, not lining up in a position where the ball ricochets off your leg, you know. Just being consistent when we are in the dot (formation), lining up right behind the center, so those are things.”

Henderson’s feelings about the speed of the game lined up closely with McVay’s comments about his mentality. 

Henderson credited reps received during the Rams’ joint practices with the Raiders last week, as well as going against Los Angeles’ own defense, for helping him adjust and know what to expect heading into the preseason opener. 

“I wouldn’t say it was faster, because from practice, seeing the defense fly everywhere and going against the Raiders, I think it kind of has slowed down for me,” Henderson said. “Seeing those guys fly around at practice, it’s difficult, you know? That defense is something serious.” 

Fellow running back Todd Gurley said he gives Henderson some in-game feedback on “little stuff.” However, with how well he thought Henderson played, Gurley said he didn’t need to say much. 

“He did a pretty good job,” said Gurley, who rested against Oakland on Saturday but still traveled with the team and was on the sidelines. “Obviously, a couple tough runs. There wasn’t too much there, but the times he had two good runs, there’s nothing really to tell him.” 

Chosen with the 70thoverall pick in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, Henderson was brought in as a dynamic playmaker for an already-explosive Rams offense. 

Unsurprisingly, it hasn’t taken long for him to have the right mindset as he gets more chances to show what he’s capable of. 

“Getting my first NFL game out of the way, I’m only going to get better from here,” Henderson said. “I’m looking forward to playing good against the Cowboys (this week) and seeing my former teammate (running back Tony Pollard). Hopefully it will be a good night for the both of us.”

The Rams return from Oakland to practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif. ahead of the team's departure to Hawaii for preseason game 2 vs. the Dallas Cowboys.

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