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St. Louis Rams 2013 depth chart: Benny Cunningham turning heads

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Have the Rams found another jewel among the undrafted free agent class this year?

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Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

"There's a running back here by the name of Cunningham, from Middle Tennessee State, that's a pretty good football player. Write his name down, and don't be surprised if Week 1 comes and he's not a running back on this team."

That was Gil Brandt, the legendary talent evaluator, on Sirius XM with Alex Marvez last Saturday in St. Louis. The two spent the day broadcasting live from the team's practice, after the team's preseason opener.

Cunningham earned some buzz with his playing time on Thursday night. He carried the ball four times for 20 yards against the second- and third-team players from the Browns. His most impressive feat was a 36-yard kick return. He's one of the lesser known guys fighting for a roster spot in camp this year, and his performance Thursday was an extension of what he's done so far this year at Rams Park.

His performance didn't escape Jeff Fisher's attention.

"You can see the explosiveness on the kickoff return and I thought he had a couple good runs," Fisher said. "He had to make some room on his own, but beyond that he's clearly got the injury behind him. We're looking forward to see him play some more."

Bradford talked about Cunningham on Saturday too, pointing to his ability to make cuts and pick up a blitz.

Cunningham was on the draft radar, briefly, last year. He tore his patellar tendon five games into his senior season. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery, and endorsed Cunningham's future ability to play. But it still left him outside looking in during the April draft.

The Rams have found a steal.

Before Cunningham went down, he gouged Georgia Tech with a 217-yard, five-touchdown performance. His game is power, and he's at his best when he can lower his shoulder on a downhill run. But don't discount his ability to make a quick cut or two on his way through the trenches, as Matt Waldman noted in this profile of Cunningham from last December.

So far, Cunningham looks to be recovered from his November knee surgery. Keep an eye on him as the preseason rolls along. Can he still make those cuts? Does he have enough lateral quickness to move around the bigger, faster defenders in the NFL?

The jury's still out, but the Rams may have plucked a steal out of the ranks of the undrafted free agents.

Check out his touchdown run here.

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