Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead addressed the recent trade for former Patriots running back Sony Michel and the punting competition during his interview Wednesday. Here are five takeaways, including his thoughts on the loss of Cam Akers.
Experience was a major factor in choosing Sony Michel over other options
(01:25) “We identified Sony for many reasons. Number one, his experience. Experience meaning like a player who’s carried the ball in big games. In those big games, there’s been big moments, big drives, big series. The experience of where he played, how he was coached. He was one of those players, if we were going to go the route of experience, he was someone that we were definitely eyeing from the start.”
Michel’s three game stretch in the playoffs to end the 2018-2019 campaign was impressive to say the least. Combining that workhorse experience, with the fact that he still has youth on his side at 26 years old, it’s easy to see why Michel was someone the Los Angeles had their eye on to help add valuable depth to a rather inexperienced unit.
Sony Michel was an enigma in his three seasons with the Patriots. But did he ever earn that ring. pic.twitter.com/XH1oo1dzLZ— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) August 25, 2021
Snead also specifically cited the Patriots as a team being both talented and deep enough at running back being a factor that allowed the Rams to make this kind of acquisition.
Per @AdamSchefter, Patriots are trading RB Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two late-round conditional draft picks.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 25, 2021
Patriots deep at RB, and now this lightens things:
Michel’s physicality is a welcomed addition to the Rams backfield
(03:40) “That’s’ going to be a complimentary backfield. What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force. The physics that he brings to the table, let’s call it a flavor of genre that we felt like complemented our group.”
Sony Michel brought back the Madden ‘07 truck stick on Tashaun Gipson pic.twitter.com/4rHkJ1wde8— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) September 19, 2018
Michel is more than likely going to pick up the Malcom Brown role that most assumed would end up belonging to rookie Jake Funk. I assume Henderson will still be the lead back as long as he stays healthy, but there is a probability of Michel eating into that workload. Though the newest Rams running back is under 220 pounds, he could become the thunder to Henderson’s lightning.
To be clear, there is no replacing Cam Akers
(06:48) “When you lose someone like Cam Akers and what he brings to the table, it definitely puts a dent in the roster. As I said, you’re not replacing Cam at all. He’s probably at a level, whether it’s running the ball, catching the ball, and then just probably some intangible type leadership, kind of glue qualities that Cam has, that’s just a tough loss. But we definitely felt if we could add the right person with the right experience that that would, let’s call it help patch things up and get our roster back to where we wanted it when we came in.”
Akers will certainly be missed, regardless of who LA was able to add to help complete the running back room. He is a special talent and we wish him a speedy recovery as he continues his rehab from the ruptured Achilles that cost him the 2021 season.
The punting competition between Johnny Hekker and Corey Bojorquez is going down to the wire
(09:55) “When Johnny’s not being able to be a part of practice and in games, what he’s brought to the table is on the table, there’s not much he can do. He’s done a lot in this league, with us obviously, during his career. We get Corey back and he’ll continue competing and competing through the game and like every roster decision, you know, there’s decisions to be made.”
With the longest tenured Ram being on the NFL’s Covid-19/Reserve list, it seems like the punting competition will be based on what Hekker has done over his nine year career against what Bojorquez can do in the preseason.
When asked about the looming decision between Rams' veteran punter Johnny Hekker and new signee Corey Bojorquez, GM Les Snead said, "That decision not made. Big picture, if we decided to move on from someone like... https://t.co/6Qkw6PcJFd— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 25, 2021
For Bojorquez, who led the league last year in terms of punt distance at 50.8 yards per punt, there may be no better place to wrap up the competition and accentuate his big leg ability than the “mile high” altitude of Denver this Saturday.
Trading for Michel doesn’t mean Jake Funk and Xavier Jones won’t have opportunities this year
(17:10) “We’ve definitely seen enough to go okay, and let’s take Jake and Xavier. This is how they can contribute, let’s call it on Sunday, you know Sunday night for the Rams and this is how they may be able to contribute four or five weeks later.”
Prior to the trade for Michel, Funk and Jones we’re in line to be the primary backups to Henderson. It’s interesting to hear Snead note Sunday night (the Rams host the Bears on the opening Sunday night of the season) in regard to Funk and Jones.
This may imply that, not only will they both likely make the roster, but there may still be carries to be had early this year, while also contributing on special teams.