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Sony Michel prepared if called upon for expanded role

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As the Rams determine whether starting running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (ribs) will be available for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, fellow running back Sony Michel is staying ready – no matter what the scope of his role ends up being.

"I gotta be prepared, whether I start or not," Michel said after Thursday's practice. "If I'm not prepared, it's not going to be good. So my only focus right now is being prepared, being in the playbook, trying to get some extra studying in, trying to go over certain looks that maybe the guys that were here in camp got that I didn't. So my job is to try to learn as fast as I can in a short amount of time. And if my number's called on Sunday, I've got to be ready to go."

After seeing only three snaps against the Bears in Week 1, Michel saw his most meaningful action to date in Week 2 with 10 carries for 46 yards and 16 snaps total.

All of those rushing attempts came in the fourth quarter after Henderson exited the game with the aforementioned rib injury. To be exact, seven of them game on the drive after Henderson's injury and accounted for seven of the 12 plays that set up what would end up being the game-winning, 38-yard field goal by Rams kicker Matt Gay.

"It's always great to get out there and help a team win a football game, try to be another piece to the puzzle," Michel said. "But it also builds confidence – it builds confidence in oneself, it builds confidence in your teammates. You want your teammates to trust you, you want your teammates to want to be out there with you. I think that's the most important part."

This week, Michel will be preparing for a Buccaneers defense that returns every starter from last year's Super Bowl team, one that also finished the 2020 regular season No. 1 in the NFL in run defense.

"I'm sure everybody knows, they have a physical front seven, they have guys that can cover well, and they're very physical," Michel said. "In order to run the football, you've got to be physical against it, and that's what we're going to try to do."

Michel will play, according to Rams head coach Sean McVay, though they're still evaluating what the scope of his involvement looks like.

"Not sure yet (if Michel will start)," McVay said. "We're seeing what Darrell's status will be, but you can expect to see Sony. Whether he's taking the first snap or however many snaps he plays, is still to be determined."

Asked if he likes knowing in advance that he will be starting, Michel indicated it didn't have an impact on his approach.

"Throughout my career, I've always prepared like a starter," Michel said. "These past two games, I prepared as if I was going to be the starter. Because things happen in the game where I might get thrown in. The term starter, it's so broad because you can start the game, but if you get thrown in the third play of the game and you got the rest of the game, if you're not prepared, it doesn't mean anything."

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