For the Rams one question worth asking heading into this weekend's opener against the Eagles is how much work running backs not named Steven Jackson will get.
Jackson, as you may have heard, missed most of the preseason holding out for a new contract, limiting his practice time. Given that, 30 carries is out of the question for Jackson, and I suspect that most of his reps will be catching those screen passes. The Eagles were 21st in the league last season against running backs catching passes.
But the Rams will focus on running this season anyway, and against the Eagles that's probably a smart move given they have a solid pass rush (6th best, 7.4% sack rate) and three Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks, albeit one's really pissed off at his team. But the Eagles are little undersized up front, something an increasingly physical Rams offensive line (thanks new o-line coach Steve Loney!) will need to take advantage of.
So, if Jackson's not ready for 30 carries in the opener, that could mean extra work for Antonio Pittman, discussed this morning as primed for a breakout or something like it. Pittman's speed might be just the thing to use against the Eagles too. Last season, their defensive line's biggest weakness was the long run. According to Football Outsiders they ranked 20th in the league last season allowing runs of 10 or more yards.
Obviously, Brian Leonard and Travis Minor will see some carries too if Jackson doesn't touch the ball 30 times, but Pittman now seems to the be the best asset behind Jackson.