The Los Angeles Rams are going through some injuries in the offensive backfield, placing RB Ronnie Rivers on IR earlier in the week, and then Saturday placing current starter Kyren Williams on IR as well, a move that will keep him out until at least Week 12.
In two separate tweets on Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that running backs Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson would take the majority of the carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with rookie Zach Evans backing them up and newly acquired Myles Gaskin not expected to be activated.
Rams’ rookie RB Zach Evans -- one of the most added players in fantasy football this past week -- is expected to back up both Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson today against the Steelers, while RB Myles Gaskin is expected to be inactive today, per sources. https://t.co/CoCKd2MXcY— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 22, 2023
With Evans being a rookie, and having the most potential upside to gain, it was expected he would be the starter until Williams return, so the move is a little bit surprising, especially considering Henderson was an addition to the team just this week. However, Henderson was with LA from 2019-2022, and is familiar with head coach Sean McVay’s offense already, making his transition to the team much easier.
Royce Freeman, on the other hand, is a journeyman back who has played for the Broncos, Panthers and Texans in his seven-year career, before landing with LA this offseason after the retirement of Sony Michel. He also has some playing experience, including a 521 yards, five touchdown season his rookie year with Denver.
It was reported Saturday that the Rams were closely monitoring a previous hip injury sustained by QB Matthew Stafford against the Indianapolis Colts Week 4, and I have to wonder if this is part of the reason Los Angeles is more willing to throw a veteran like Henderson or Freeman in, over the rookie Evans, who has no real significant game time on the field besides a few carries at the end of the game last week. To Henderson’s credit, he has always done well in pass blocking situations, and LA may be willing to play a veteran in blitz pickup, rather than possibly putting Stafford at risk of a rookie missing an assignment and the veteran QB taking another big shot.
Sunday will be a tough challenge for whoever is blocking, as they will be facing a set of strong pass rushers in Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, another reason why the Rams may be opting for the veteran presence in this game.