Next men up for Rams at RB with Gurley, Mason gimpy
Sep. 12, 2015
ST. LOUIS (AP) — After the Rams drafted Todd Gurley 10th overall in the NFL draft this spring, few expected the team's starting running backs in Week 1 to be a tandem of Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead.
With Gurley still rehabbing a torn ACL and last year's starter Tre Mason nursing a hamstring injury susustained in the preseason and listed as questionable, Cunningham and Pead may get the call as the Rams host Seattle on Sunday.
"You pretty much just try to approach everyday like you're the one who starts," Cunningham said. "I feel like we all do a good job, it's a competitive group. Hopefully those guys will be healthy, but if not I feel like the guys that are up are prepared to go do what we need to do."
Undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State, Cunningham initially made the Rams in 2013 through special teams.
He established himself as a kickoff returner in 2014, leading the league with an average of 27.5 yards. Cunningham rushed for 246 yards averaging 3.7 yards a carry and caught 45 passes for 352 yards backing up Mason.
"Benny's had a really good week," coach Jeff Fisher said. "His production speaks for itself. If Tre can't go, Benny will go, Isaiah will go, Chase (Reynolds) will go. We'll be in good shape."
Pead has just 17 career carries for 75 yards after being drafted in the second round by the Rams in 2012. He was able to stick on the team through special teams, but is coming off a torn ACL suffered last year during the preseason.
In the Rams final preseason game against the Chiefs, Pead finally flashed the skills that compelled the Rams to take him 50th overall three years ago rushing 12 times for 52 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The performance proved that he was totally back from the injury.
"That was the most plays I've played in a game in a while, but my number kept getting called," Pead said. "I've been ready to go, so it was kind of a good confirmation."
Quarterback Nick Foles has confidence in whoever is in the backfield.
"Benny's a guy.he can run," Foles said. "He can run through guys. He can do a bunch of different things. Pead's back. He's healthy. He can make guys miss. As you saw last game, he can shed some tackles. Both of those guys are really talented players and I'm excited to have Isaiah healthy."
The Rams have suffered from slow starts the past two seasons, including going 1-5 to begin the 2014 campaign. Hosting Seattle, the defending NFC champion, right away only raises the stakes.
"It will be big because it's a division win and it will let you know that all the work you put in this offseason and this summer kind of gives you confidence, that it went toward something," Cunningham said. "It's kind of frustrating when you put in all that work and start the season off with a loss."
Notes: Mason (thigh) did not practice and is questionable . Gurley (knee) was limited in practice and is out . Daren Bates (knee) was limited in practice and is questionable.