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The top five running backs in Rams’ history: Fan’s view
On August 6, 2011, St. Louis Rams legend Marshall Faulk will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Faulk's entrance into the hallowed grounds in Canton, Ohio got me thinking of where he ranks among the Rams all-time leading rushers. After some deep thought, here are the top five running backs in Rams' history:
5. Dick Bass (1960-1969)
Drafted second overall in the 1959 NFL Draft, Dick Bass was never the player that the Rams hoped he'd become, but he still had a solid career for the team. In 1962, Bass made his first of three Pro Bowls after running for 1,033 yards and six touchdowns for a 5.3 yards-per-carry average.
Bass had his best season in 1966 when he ran for 1,090 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his career with 5,417 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns. Bass later worked for 13 years as a radio analyst for Rams' games.
4. Lawrence McCutcheon (1972-1979)
After playing in only one game in his first season, Lawrence McCutcheon burst onto the scene in 1973, rushing for 1,097 yards in only 12 games. This began a string of five consecutive Pro Bowl seasons during which the Rams never failed to win the NFC West Division.
McCutcheon finished his Rams career in 1979 with 6,186 career rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. He has remained with the Rams for 37 years and is currently the Director of Player Personnel.
3. Eric Dickerson (1983-1987)
Eric Dickerson was drafted by the Rams with the second pick in the 1983 NFL Draft and immediately became a star. He ran for 1,808 yards and 18 touchdowns on an astounding 390 carries in his rookie season and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. In 1984, Dickerson set an NFL-record for yards rushing in a season with 2,105 yards. He also scored 14 touchdowns and averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry.
Dickerson was later traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 1987 after he and the Rams were unable to solve a contract dispute. He finished his Rams career with 7,245 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns. If he'd remained with the Rams, Dickerson would be higher on this list. He was a 5-time First Team All-Pro and 6-time Pro Bowler who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
2. Steven Jackson (2004 - Present)
Many fans were surprised when the Rams traded up to get Steven Jackson with the 24th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. The Rams had Faulk starting at running back, and few thought that the team would take a rusher that early in the draft. However, Rams' management proved correct in their assessment of Jackson's abilities, and he has since become the team's all-time leading rusher with 7,948 rushing yards.
A 3-time Pro Bowler, Jackson has not finished with less than 1,000 yards rushing in a season since his rookie year despite battling injuries throughout his career. He led the league in all-purpose yards in 2006 with 2,334 yards and 16 total touchdowns. Last season, Jackson led the team with 1,241 yard rushing with six touchdowns. As his career moves forward, he has an excellent chance of entering the Hall of Fame.
1. Marshall Faulk (1999-2005)
Overall, Dickerson and Jackson have better rushing numbers than Faulk did as a Ram, but there are two factors that set Faulk apart. First, the trade that sent Faulk to the Rams in 1999 proved to be the catalyst that brought the team its first Super Bowl championship. As part of the "Greatest Show on Turf" offense the Rams employed, Faulk ran for 1,381 yards in his first season with the team. In the 2000 season, Faulk improved ran for 1,359 yards and 18 touchdowns in an offense that led the NFL with 540 points scored.
Secondly, Faulk was outstanding out of the backfield. He led the NFL with 2,429 all-purpose yards in 1999, which included 1,048 yards receiving. Faulk had three seasons of over 2,000 all-purpose yards and caught at least 80 passes four times in his Rams' career. His combined numbers rushing and receiving make him the best running back in Rams' history.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child, and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory.
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