Running Back Battle Report

Matt Sullivan

Many Rams fans surely had their eyes fixed on the teams running backs during the Thursday night preseason game in Cleveland. The hotly contested battle of unproven backs is in full-swing. Find out who's coming out ahead.

One thing that should stick out to everyone about Thursdays game is that not one single player knocked it out of the park. Every Rams back showcased some things they can contribute to the team, and had a few missteps along the way. Let's see who may have made the most headway.

Daryl Richardson:

It's pretty obvious Daryl Richardson is firmly atop the depth chart, and for good reason. He showcased quick burst, excellent vision, and seemed to have a firm grasp of his responsibilities. He clearly is the safest and most developed of all the Rams running backs.

One of my biggest concerns with Richardson is that he's not all that dynamic. His hands are obviously a weak point, as we saw him drop some balls on Thursday. But, this is not a new development. D-Rich has never been known to have great hands, but the Rams seem to need a little more versatility from him. His combination of size, speed, and quickness make him a great candidate for screens and short routes. Unfortunately, until he develops this part of the game he will be an incomplete back for this Rams offense.

Isaiah Pead:

The fact that several well known broadcasters and sports personalities have mentioned Isiah Pead and the "C word" together is not a good thing. It seems absurd that the Rams would cut their 2nd round back who's barely a year old in the NFL, but Pead is doing all the types of things that get a 2nd rounder cut. Complaining in the off-season about being burned out and disappointed, fumbling in practice, being inconsistent, and fumbling during preseason games is a real good way to get on the front offices bad side.

I don't think the Rams are planning to cut Isaiah Pead, but I do think they are envisioning a future without him - simply because he can't be counted on at this point. He has shown nothing on film that would leave you believe he could be counted on during the regular season. While he has showcased a dynamic running ability - and some shifty technique - he has yet to have a complete series in which he puts it all together.

I thought Pead looked better than any other back last Monday at practice; however, just two days later he seemed like a different player. He was fumbling the ball, pouting after missing opportunities, and seemed to lack the same burst that he did just days before.

If Isaiah Pead can't turn over a new leaf soon he will not only lose his #2 spot, he could lose his job completely.

Zac Stacy:

Zac Stacy showed the ability on Thursday to develop into a very good NFL back. He dropped some passes and looked a little slow in pass protection, but he was making mistakes at 100 mph. Coaches want to see players playing at 100% speed. Stacy runs in the NFL just like he did in college. I can watch film of his days at Vanderbilt and film of Thursdays game and see the same guy. As he refines his game, he can not only push for carries this season, he could potentially be eying a #1 job in the future. It's simply too early to tell. He has longer to come than many might have thought entering the season, but this is OK as long as he continues to progress.

Ben Cunningham:

Ben Cunningham had one of the best performances of all the backs on Thursday night. He showcased a hard-nosed and physical running style. He his a very stout young man that can contribute to this football team right now. He was very good in pass protection, and had several very good runs. He missed a clear lane during one run that could have been a big one, and so he is not without elements of the game that he will have to work on. However, fans got a little taste of his open field ability during his kickoff return (the best Rams kickoff return of the night), and fans had to have liked what they saw. Cunningham looks like a player poised to make the roster at this point, and you have to wonder if he could push for carries over someone like Stacy and even Pead later in the season.

Chase Reynolds:

Chase Reynolds has been hanging on to a Rams roster spot for a very long time. He is a hard worker, and plays with good intensity. Unfortunately for him, talent prevails in the NFL. Reynolds lacks the strength and technique to help in pass protection, and isn't fast enough or quick enough to be a real threat with the ball in his hands. At this point, I can't see him making it past the first or second round of cuts.

Terrance Ganaway:

Ganaway didn't play Thursday night which hurts him much more than it helps him. He will have to blow his next opportunity out of the water if he wants to make this Rams team. The Rams will keep 4 RB's at a maximum, and it's unlikely Ganaway would take Stacy or Pead’s spot. That means Ganaway is competing with Cunningham who is having a very strong showing. Under either circumstances, both players will likely have to make a strong impression just for the team to keep a 4th back.

So there you have it. I know who my niece thought did the best. Who do you think had the best showing Thursday night?

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