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How much will Sony Michel play against Bucs on Sunday?

Michel expected to step up following Darrell Henderson injury

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay had to have taken a deep sigh of relief when he found out running back Darrell Henderson wouldn’t be joining Cam Akers on injured reserve.

This is obviously excellent news for the Los Angeles Rams, as they don’t have to worry about replacing yet another rusher. McVay says the team plans to rest Henderson during the week and hopes to check on him on Friday to plan what his status will be against Tampa Bay. While hoping for a speedy recovery, this news figures to be a positive for Sony Michel.

Michel has been fairly quiet since being acquired from the New England Patriots late in the preseason. In his Rams debut against the Bears in Week 1, Michel had one rushing attempt for two yards. Not exactly a groundbreaking start, but he made quite an impression on his teammates after Henderson went down in the teams’ win over the Colts on Sunday.

Sony’s calm demeanor was evidenced in his carries as he toted the rock 10 times for 46 yards and a 4.6 average with his longest run being an 11-yard rush seen here:

It’s a fair question whether this is the start of a larger role for Michel in McVay’s offense. Personally, I believe this is a promising start of something larger for the rushing attack. I’m salivating at the notion that the Rams could have a two-headed monster at running back as long as Henderson and Michel stay healthy of course. This could offset the Akers injury, and make LA’s offense more balanced and lethal as the season progresses.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sony’s limited role in the season opener was due to the flow of the game due to several drives including long touchdown passes, thereby limiting his snaps. He’s going to have quite the challenge against the Buccaneers defensive front this weekend. Through two games, Tampa has only allowed 115 yards on the ground for a 3.0 yards per carry average and the Bucs had the best run defense in the NFL in 2020.

I think Michel will see even more carries on Sunday as he’s becoming more comfortable in the offense, so his usage should increase by the week. I’m not predicting a monster game from him due to the Bucs’ defense, but I believe he will outnumber Henderson’s carries as McVay seeks to prevent further damage on his RB1.

That is if Henderson even plays, which we can’t predict and may not know the answer to until Sunday’s inactives are announced. Given the probable amount of pain that Henderson will be in if he does play, this weekend looks like a prime opportunity for Michel to get comfortable with the starting offense in a trial by fire.

As to further depth, Jake Funk has no experience at the NFL and he had little experience with carrying the football during his five years at Maryland. The team also added undrafted rookie Javian Hawkins, a teammate of Tutu Atwell at Louisville, to the practice squad on Monday.

If Henderson doesn’t go, expect a heavy workload for Sony Michel and Funk as an emergency backup.

If Henderson does go, the two may split carries, with Michel getting the bulk of the work.