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2017 Rams Roster Preview: RB Lance Dunbar, Secret Weapon?

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The speedy RB is trying to overcome injuries to become a difference maker in the passing game.

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams RB Lance Dunbar enters his sixth NFL season looking to finally become an important part of an NFL offense.

Dunbar’s career has been underwhelming thus far due to injuries, a lack of opportunity and limited playing time. For his career, Dunbar has totaled just over 1,000 total yards and one TD. Getting out from the shadows of RB DeMarco Murray and RB Ezekiel Elliott with the Dallas Cowboys and into the bright lights of Head Coach Sean McVay’s new offense could be just the thing to breathe life into his career as a third down back.

Dunbar joins the Rams after playing 54 of a possible 80 games with the Cowboys. A more productive receiver than a rusher, his most notable season would be 2015 in which he only finished three games before tearing his ACL. It’s notable because in three full games, Dunbar was targeted 23 times hauling in 21 catches for 215 yards. His last full game of 2015 saw him catch all 10 of his targets for 100 yards against the Atlanta Falcons.

Roster Battle

The Rams decided to let RB Benny Cunningham and RB Chase Reynolds walk in free agency while also electing not to draft any RBs. RB Just Todd Gurley is still alive, so there isn’t much of a battle for rushing attempts. RB Malcolm Brown (roster preview) or rookie RB Lenard Tillery (roster preview) offer the stiffest competition as a spell back to Gurley while a 2016 UDFA like Aaron Green (roster preview) could push Dunbar in camp for targets. Gurley has yet to develop into a real receiving threat which leaves Dunbar as the clear favorite for that role on 3rd downs heading into training camp in what Misone tabbed as his most interesting roster battle of all on Turf Show Radio.

Expectations

Many comparisons are drawn for the Rams to emulate the Washington offense under McVay. One of the underrated players of that offense was RB Chris Thompson who excelled as Swiss Army knife type of back and profiles physically and stylistically to Dunbar. Anything resembling Thompson’s usage would be a boon for Dunbar as Thompson had 117 touches for 705 yards and 5 scores in 2016.

I would expect Dunbar to see the kind of receiving looks that Thompson got in Washington while hardly getting any rushing attempts. I’d think WR Tavon Austin is likely to get more carries than Dunbar.

Chance of Making Final Roster (9/10)

There is little in the way of RB competition on the Rams, and Dunbar is already extremely similar to a familiar former player for McVay. With four RBs likely to make the final roster, Dunbar just needs to make it through training camp healthy.

Dunbar offers the Rams their own Chris Thompson-lite for the offense and a potential kickoff return man should he get the opportunity.