As we all know, the Rams are once again pursuing a backup running back for Steven Jackson. It seems as if Kenneth Darby and Keith Toston aren't cutting it.
We have several options in free agency. We can go after a savy veteran like Darren Sproles, the home run hitter Reggie Bush, the dependable Jason Snelling, or an undrafted rookie like Derrick Locke or Mario Fannin. Lets look at some of the positives and negatives of all these players' games.
Reggie Bush - He has a bit of an injury history. Doesn't want to leave New Orleans and they want to retain him. Reggie is a home run hitter who can change a game with one play. I do not believe he will come cheap which is a huge negative for someone who touches the ball 6-8 times a game. Reggie doesn't look like he will accept the backup role and tries to much to be something he isn't, a workhorse. Reggie shows he has a knack to get in the endzone with 17 rushing touchdowns and 12 receiving touchdowns in his 5 year injury riddled career.
Darren Sproles - He has openly said he is expecting a backup role which is important. Not only does he bring the ability to run and catch, but he has shown he is a huge spark with his kick returns. His special team ability will always keep him a priority. Some say hes too old because he is 28, though he only has 249 carries in his 6 year career. He averages over his career 4.6 YPC which is impressive. In my opinion, his receiving ability sets him apart from the rest. Last season he had 59 receptions, 520 yards, and 2 touchdowns receiving.
Jason Snelling - Snelling had a great year backing up Michael Turner. He had 87 rushing attempts for 324 yards with an average of 3.7 yards per carry and scoring 2 touchdowns. He also had 44 receptions for 303 yards, and 3 touchdowns receiving. I don't see why the Falcons would let him walk. He's so valuable to that team. When Turner needs a break or is down, the offense doesn't seem to skip a beat with Snelling in. If he is available, I see the Rams heavily pursuing either him (Snelling) or Sproles.
Derrick Locke - Locke is an undrafted rookie running back from Kentucky. He is 5'9 tall and weighs 190 lbs. Very quick, fast, agile, makes good cuts, and can break one for a big run is what most say about him. He is the perfect change of pace back for Steven Jackson. With only 166 carries he managed to accumulate 887 yards, and 10 touchdowns rushing. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and his long was an 83 yard run. He has the ability to break a huge run.
Mario Fannin - He is more of a big bruiser type back at 5'11 and 228 lbs. He is also very quick and can make a big play by one very dangerous cut. With the very limited carries he got he definitely made the most of them. He had only 61 carries but for 395 yards rushing. He had 5 rushing touchdowns averaging 6.5 yards per carry. That is impressive. Fannin had 17 receptions for 173 yards averaging 10.2 yards per catch. He also had 2 receiving touchdowns. Both Fannin and Locke will come cheap.
Last year Steven Jackson had his lowest yards per carry average at 3.8. This was partly due to our horrendous guard play, thanks to Jacob Bell and Adam Goldberg. We also didn't have a consistent down field threat causing Steven too be playing against 8 and 9 man boxes at times. Last but not least, Steven needs a consistent backup who can jump into the line up and keep the offense going with no problems.