THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Rams traded for running back Sony Michel because they liked his experience and believed his skillset would complement their current rotation.
Accordingly, Michel arrives in Los Angeles flexible to their plans for him in their backfield.
"I'm going to just try to be the best version of me, the best player I can be, whatever they ask," Michel said after Thursday's practice. "Whether it's just running down, going to block somebody, catching the ball, running the ball, whatever they need me to do, I'm going to try to do as best as I can and try to fill whatever void that they need filled."
Across 38 games with the Patriots, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Michel rushed 535 times for 2,292 yards – good for an average of 4.3 yards per carry – and 14 touchdowns.
McVay said they felt good about their running back position, but given the "volatility" of what lead running back Darrell Henderson Jr. has gone through over the course of training camp, they wanted to make sure got someone else who has played in big games and "brings a physical presence to the room."
"Darrell is still going to have a really big role. It doesn't really change the outlook for him," McVay said. "We'll see how quickly we can get (RB) Sony (Michel) up to speed."
That said, Michel was being brought along slowly during his first 24 hours in Los Angeles.
McVay said there wasn't any temptation to get Michel onto the practice field Thursday because it wouldn't have been the most efficient use of his time, given how the previous 32 hours had unfolded between traveling, getting his physical, and other responsibilities and duties that come with the quick turnaround of getting traded to a new team. Michel said he got told he was getting traded at 7:30 a.m. eastern time yesterday, then was on a flight to Los Angeles around 4 p.m. eastern time.
"Last two days kind of just been, the best way I can put it is football terminology, sudden change," Michel said. "It's like, something suddenly happens, and you just got to get ready to execute. Not much time could be wasted. Just got to get up, get ready to go and get adjusted, acclimated with the new adjustment."
Michel spent Thursday's practice participating in individual drills, then observing from the sidelines during the intra-squad scrimmage. He watched intently right beside running backs coach/assistant head coach Thomas Brown, with the two talking in between plays.
Brown was also Michel's position coach during his 2015 sophomore season at the University of Georgia, and Michel said it was good to reunite with him.
"Me and knowing some of his ways, learning, getting back adjusted to what he'd do and how he'd run things, it was good kind of listening to him, listening to some of the key points and just trying to learn really," Michel said.
While the Rams are taking things "a day at a time" to get Michel up to speed, McVay mentioned a couple variables that could accelerate Michel's learning curve.
One was having seen new players come in with a conscientious work ethic and quickly contribute in the past like C.J. Anderson, who rushed 20 times for 167 yards and and one touchdown in a 31-9 Rams win over the Cardinals five days after the Rams signed him in late December 2018. The other was the type of teacher Brown is.
"Everything I've heard about Sony and the way that he's wired mentally, and just the way that he goes about his business, I do anticipate him being a quick study," McVay said. "The goal is to have him ready to go and be a big-time contributor on the 12th."
Michel will be doing his part to make that happen.
"That's the big goal, that's the big question," Michel said, when a reporter asked how quickly he can learn the playbook for Week 1. "That's my goal to dive in and learn as much as I can and try to stay on it and just keep learning. That's all I can do right now."
The Los Angeles Rams got to work on the practice field to prepare for Saturday's preseason matchup against the Denver Broncos.