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2019 Los Angeles Rams roster preview: RB Malcolm Brown with less load to shoulder

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MB worked his way to the RB2 spot behind Todd Gurley, but the drafting of Darrell Henderson means Brown’s time as a running back might be done.

Los Angeles Rams RB Malcolm Brown runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3, Sep. 23, 2018.
Los Angeles Rams RB Malcolm Brown runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3, Sep. 23, 2018.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

In early April as we got to the other side of free agency, I wondered if 2019 was going to be a breakout year for Los Angeles Rams RB Malcolm Brown.

Having held on to him despite interest from the Detroit Lions, the Rams instead let C.J. Anderson, their late season foil to RB Todd Gurley, head up north. Knowing that the Rams were going to have to get more out of their running back depth chart than at any point in Gurley’s career until Anderson’s arrival, I thought perhaps that might work in Brown’s favor and that his re-signing might have indicated he was the Rams’ preferred option to spell Just Todd.

But over the next three weeks, the Rams’ continued interest in the rookie running back class heading to the 2019 NFL Draft suggested that instead a rookie was going to be the primary option away from Gurley. A few days later, the Rams confirmed those suspicions taking RB Darrell Henderson with the 70th overall pick.

What does that mean for Brown? As the RB3 behind Gurley and Benny Cunningham in 2015 and 2016, Brown had just 22 carries in 17 games.

Instead of a breakout season, is Brown leaving the offense altogether?

Roster Battle

Brown’s in an unusual position. He’s likely been demoted to RB3, but remains entrenched ahead of Justin Davis (roster preview), John Kelly (roster preview) and Matt Colburn II (roster preview). I suppose there’s a chance for him to impress over the next month while Henderson looks like a rookie that keeps Brown as the primary backup to Gurley heading into Week 1, but I think that chance is probably slim.

Ultimately, I think there might not be a battle for Brown in any direction.

Expectations

Probably going to mixed until we figure out the usage levels between Gurley, Hendo and Brown.

Could Brown help spell Gurley early on in the season? Perhaps. But any carries you’re giving Malcolm Brown are carries you’re not giving Todd Gurley or Darrell Henderson, and that might be tough to justify moving ahead. But limiting Brown to a special teams-only component would seem to waste the talents of one of the better backups the Rams have had in years.

Tough balance for Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator Aaron Kromer and Head Coach Sean McVay to figure out.

Chances of making the final roster (9.9/10)

It’s nearly impossible to see Brown being edged out of special teams work. I’ll put him as a near-lock assuming he doesn’t have a negative response to Henderson’s arrival among the running backs. And I’d bet he’s professional enough to deal with it appropriately.