Head coach Sean McVay said on Friday that a roster move was likely and now it’s come to pass. Running back Lance Dunbar has been added to Los Angeles’ 53-man roster from the physically unable to perform list.
Additionally, with tight end Derek Carrier doubtful for Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury, the Rams have promoted tight end Johnny Mundt from the practice squad to the active roster.
Dunbar signed with the Rams as an unrestricted free agent during the spring, but then suffered a knee injury during the offseason program. He was unable to practice at the start of training camp, and was placed on PUP. Still sidelined by the injury at the beginning of the regular season, Dunbar was thus not available to even practice for the first six weeks of the season.
But that changed last Monday following the Rams’ bye week, as the club began Dunbar’s 21-day window to begin practicing. And now he’ll be donning the No. 25 jersey on Sunday against the Texans at the Coliseum.
“It was good to get Lance back out there,” McVay said Friday. “He’s been practicing for the last couple weeks and now this will offer and opportunity for us to see him on Sunday.”
“I’m feeling great, excited to get back out there with my teammates,” Dunbar said Friday. “I feel healthy, I’ve been doing everything, playing football, so I’m excited. It’s going to be a fun day on Sunday.”
Dunbar is likely to serve in the No. 2 running back role behind Todd Gurley. Malcolm Brown had excelled in that spot — rushing for 57 yards in last week’s blowout victory over the Giants — but suffered an MCL injury against New York and will be out for at least a few weeks.
“You look at Malcolm’s injury, that’s an unfortunate loss for us,” McVay said this week. “He’s a very important part of what we’ve been doing. I’m really pleased with him. I want to say that he’s sustained that at some point in the second half and continued to play through that, which demonstrates his toughness. So, guys will have to step up in his void.”
While Dunbar will be one such player, he brings a bit of a different skillset to the Rams’ offense. Brown is known more as a downhill runner, whereas Dunbar has built a reputation as a back who can be particularly effective running routes. In five years with the Cowboys, Dunbar caught 68 passes for 646 yards, while also taking 94 carries for 422 yards.
“I think part of the reason we brought him here is he’s a pretty versatile guy out the backfield,” offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said. “He’s got very good receiving skills. He’s a guy that’s been in the league for six years, so he’s got that veteran experience as well.”
Though Dunbar has been in the league for a while, he admitted there will still probably be some nerves playing for the first time this season.
“You’re anxious until it’s time to get out there and then you get a little nervous, but it’s a good thing because I want to do well and I want everything to be good,” Dunbar said. “I’m excited and ready to go.”
Mundt was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, and has spent the majority of his first professional season on Los Angeles' practice squad.
The Rams began Saturday with 52 men on their active roster. Los Angeles waived offensive lineman Andrew Donnal as its one corresponding move to put the club at 53 players for Sunday's game against Houston.
Kristen Lago contributed reporting.