By Shawn Campbell, FootballStL
Despite keeping five running backs on the active roster, the immediate future of the Rams ground game seems somewhat murky due to injury, suspension and lack of experience.
Returning starter Tre Mason reinjured his hamstring, which caused him to miss part of training camp, as well as the final game of the preseason, and has him listed as a game-time decision in week 1. Mason was expected to handle the bulk of the carries while first round draft pick Todd Gurley recovers from an ACL injury that he suffered in his final season as a Georgia Bulldog. Mason may also be counted on to split carries with Gurley after compiling 765 yards and 4 touchdowns during his rookie campaign, but his availability in week one is up in the air.
Todd Gurley, who is expected to start when healthy, was cleared to practice earlier in the week. Gurley, will be held out against Seattle and is still expected most of the first month of the season as he gets back into football condition.
“I definitely would want to be playing, but I know it’s going to be a long journey,” Gurley said. “You have to be patient and when the time comes it comes. I’ll be ready for it.”
During his tenure in St. Louis, Coach Jeff Fisher has been notorious for holding back his rookie runners until their up to speed on all facets of the position. It took Tre Mason until week 6 to see the field a season ago and former Rams running back Zac Stacy was inactive during the first two games of the 2013 season.
With the possibility of being without their number one and two options, the Rams will be forced to look to undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham.
Cunningham impressed in his rookie season and is confident that he’s ready to handle the load Sunday.
“I feel like I most definitely got better from my previous two seasons,” Cunningham said. “I have a better understanding of the game and what it takes to be a pro. So I’m just excited to go out here and have the opportunity to prove that.”
Besides Cunningham, once coveted Isiah Pead should see action in the backfield as the only other active back with regular season experience. Pead will be looking to change some opinions of him, as well as solidify a season long spot on the roster, as he could be roster casualty when Tre Watts returns from his four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.
With Cunningham and Pead being counted on heavily, the Rams will look to start their season on a high note against a Seahawks team that Coach Jeff Fisher has beaten two out of three times in the Edward Jones Dome.