There were not many starters on the field Saturday night for the Los Angeles Rams, but after a season-ending injury to Cam Akers, a battle for backup took place at SoFi Stadium. Xavier Jones got the nod for the start but tied Raymond Calais with seven carries and Jake Funk finishing in third with five.
Xavier Jones appears to have taken the lead for backup at the moment, getting seven rushing attempts and gaining 21 yards on those plays, though under these circumstances the numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. He was also targeted in the pass game three times for two receptions.
More important than the stats, Sean McVay sort of talked about Jones after the game as if he was the main backup right now, calling him a “bright spot” in training camp.
Funk played behind Jones and was utilized mostly as a third down back. He caught a screen pass but the Chargers were all over it and it led to a negative play. McVay said that Funk played well, especially on a key fourth-and-1.
Calais saw most of his playing time in the second half and amassed 14 yards on seven carries. He also was featured in the special teams and may carve out a spot for himself on the team as a punt and kick returner because he did seem to do well in those moments. He took a punt back for 46 yards and set the Rams up in great field position.
But pass protection will also be a key for the third down back and Calais missed a key block in that area. Is it a strength or a weakness?
It will be hard for Sean McVay and running back coach Thomas Brown to truly diagnose their backfield after a poor performance from the offensive line in the run game. The Chargers’ front was living in the Rams’ backfield and closed up any gaps quickly before any LA running back could hit a hole. To truly understand what the Rams have in the backfield, the offensive line will need to tighten up their run-blocking in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders next Saturday.
After a lackluster performance by the Rams backfield and offensive line, quarterback Bryce Perkins definitely had the highlight of the game when he took off from the pocket and hurdled a defender for the first down. Hopkins was the rushing leader for LA with four carries that went for 23 yards.
But Perkins won’t be in the Rams running back committee in 2021. Who will be?