THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — When operating again Cam Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles harm earlier than the beginning of coaching camp, it served a devastating blow to the Los Angeles Rams and their revamped offense, led by newly-acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford.
However the timing of Akers’ harm gave the Rams ample alternative to formulate a contingency plan.
The Rams moved Darrell Henderson Jr. into the beginning function and with greater than seven weeks till the season opener, had time to find out if a few of their younger expertise — second-year professional Xavier Jones and rookie seventh-round decide Jake Funk — may shortly become bigger roles.
However following almost 4 weeks of practices, two preseason video games and with the season opener in opposition to the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12 inching nearer, it turned more and more obvious that the Rams wanted to look outdoors their facility for reinforcements with a view to keep Tremendous Bowl aspirations.
Now they’re hoping fourth-year operating again Sony Michel is the important thing to electrifying a quiet backfield.
“We’re positively jacked about the place we’re at as a roster,” Rams basic supervisor Les Snead mentioned Wednesday after trading a 2022 sixth-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick to the New England Patriots in trade for Michel.
A primary-round decide (No. 31 total) by the Patriots in 2018, Michel comes at a comparatively low price and will present the burst out of the backfield that the Rams have lacked as they’ve put in their playbook round Stafford.
“What he does carry is that this component of make a reduce, get north and south and get north and south with some drive,” Snead mentioned. “The physics that he brings to the desk — let’s name it a taste or style that we felt like complemented our group.”
Michel is taking part in out the ultimate season of his rookie deal after the Patriots declined to select up his rookie possibility. He is scheduled to make $1.79 million.
In 28 begins over the past three seasons, Michel has rushed for two,292 yards and 14 touchdowns.
It is unclear what the workload break up shall be between Henderson and Michel or if Michel may ultimately take over the beginning function from Henderson, who was chosen within the third spherical of the 2019 draft as a change-of-pace again.
The 5-foot-8, 208-pound Henderson and 5-11, 215-pound Michel have contrasting run types, as Henderson usually bounces outdoors the tackles, whereas Michel runs downhill.
Matthew Berry analyzes Darrell Henderson Jr.’s fantasy projections after the Rams traded for Sony Michel.
Rams coach Sean McVay has emphasised his confidence in Henderson’s skillset and skill to be a three-down again, however has additionally cautioned in regards to the want for a measured method to deploying Henderson due to well being issues.
“There is not something that we do not really feel like Darrell is able to doing from a skillset,” McVay mentioned throughout coaching camp. “It is simply actually determining that candy spot by way of what’s the correct amount of snaps to offer him to maintain him contemporary all through the course of a 17-game season and hopefully extra after that.”
Henderson is at present coping with a gentle thumb sprain that has precipitated him to put on a forged or brace on his left hand. And over the previous two years, he is had varied accidents which have sporadically sidelined him and ended every season prematurely after he was positioned on injured reserve in Week 16 in 2019 and 2020 with ankle accidents. Each accidents required offseason surgical procedure.
In 28 profession video games, together with 11 begins, Henderson has rushed for 771 yards and 5 touchdowns and in addition has caught 20 passes for 196 yards and a landing.
Although he has earned reward from coaches and has confirmed wholesome all through Patriots coaching camp, Michel — a member of the Tremendous Bowl LIII champion Patriots who defeated the Rams, comes with some harm issues of his personal.
Final season, Michel was positioned on injured reserve after Week 3 due to a quadriceps harm and missed six video games. He additionally battled knee points popping out Georgia that lingered into the NFL.
Nonetheless, with the Rams eyeing a deep playoff run, any harm concern that may accompany Michel is of venture price taking with a view to achieve expertise, explosiveness and depth within the backfield.
“We recognized Sony for a lot of causes,” Snead mentioned. “Primary, being his expertise — and expertise, which means like a participant who has carried the ball in large video games and in these large video games, the place there have been large moments, large drives, large sequence.”
The Rams hope Michel is the lacking piece to assist carry them deep into February.