Rams' Pead faces up to tough challenge

Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Isaiah Pead knows he must put last year behind him to become a significant contributor to the St. Louis Rams' offense this season.
That begins with working hard, knowing he will miss the first game of the season after being suspended last week for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse.
Pead refused to be specific Thursday about what resulted in the suspension, saying only, "It's a tough blow losing the game and to be embarrassed. I apologize for an isolated situation that I shouldn't have been involved in."
Because of league confidentiality guidelines, the details of the infraction are unknown. However, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said it occurred last summer and added, "He obviously has to suffer the consequences and miss the game. But I'm pleased with how he's bounced back and his professional approach to being a member of this team."
The situation is odd because Pead was suspended only one game, and it took as long as it did for the discipline to be handed down by the league. When Pead was asked about that, more intrigue was added when he said there had been "a little discipline" then and "now there is more."
Still, Pead insists it is all behind him, including his disappointing rookie season when he got off to slow start in part because he had to miss most of the offseason work because graduation hadn't been held at the University of Cincinnati. He carried just 10 times for 54 yards and was beaten out for the backup job behind Steven Jackson by fellow rookie, seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson.
In a recent story published on the school's website, Pead described last season by saying, "Honestly, I would call it miserable. Miserable life. Miserable four-five months."
But things are different now, he says. "I don't even look back at what happened," Pead said. I'm only looking at today and tomorrow and how I can get better every day. It's all about 'Win today.' That's what I've been taught since high school. 'Win today.'"
With Jackson in Atlanta after leaving as a free agent, there are opportunities aplenty in the offense at running back. The main competitors for playing time are Pead, a second-round pick in 2012; Richardson; rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy and Terrance Ganaway, a Jets sixth-round pick in 2012 who was picked up by the Rams on a waiver claim.
Asked what the team's running backs room is like without Jackson, Pead laughed and said, "It's young. But we're disciplined and working hard."
He also said he considers the battle for playing time "wide open. It's competition. And I'm still training and working hard as if I'll be out there the first week. I have to get the playbook right and I want to help us make plays."
As for what he learned from Jackson last season, Pead said he didn't have many personal conversations with him, but noted, "One I'll always remember was the shortest and the sweetest. He talked about 'the game within the game.' Things like come to work, dress right, pay attention in the classroom. Always be competing, answering questions. Just the small things. Knowing that everything counts every day."
That's what he's trying to do now, knowing that one day (Sept. 8 against Arizona) he will only to be able to watch.

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