With RB depth thinning, the Rams must consider adding help

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At this point, the Rams might as well just put their running backs in bubble wrap and keep them on the sideline until Week 1. Just in a span of three days, Raymond Calais fractured his foot and Darrell Henderson Jr. sprained his thumb.

That, of course, after Cam Akers tore his Achilles before training camp and will miss the entire 2021 season.

Fortunately, Henderson’s thumb injury isn’t serious and he’s considered day-to-day, but Calais will be out 4-6 months – an especially disappointing setback after he was really establishing himself as the No. 4 running back and return specialist. But these two injuries are a reminder of the fragility of the position.

It’s rare for a running back to play an entire season without missing at least one game or battling through some sort of ailment. Todd Gurley played all 16 games once with the Rams in 2016, though his one missed game in 2017 was due to rest in Week 17. He was considered a durable running back despite his knee causing issues at the end of 2018 and into 2019.

Akers missed time last year. Henderson did, too. Malcolm Brown was the only running back to make it through all 16 games and he had just 101 carries.

If the season started tomorrow, the Rams would have Jake Funk, Xavier Jones and Otis Anderson Jr. available in the backfield. That’s it. Henderson avoided a major injury, but he still needs time to heal.

Which is why the time is now for the Rams to consider adding help in the backfield. Henderson has shown he can’t stay healthy for an entire season. In the last two weeks alone, he banged up his hand and sprained his thumb, and thankfully neither injury was serious. If the Rams are going to trust him to handle the bulk of the carries this year, they must have a backup plan beyond just Funk and Jones.

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Sean McVay continues to suggest the Rams are confident in the players they currently have despite losing Calais and Henderson injuring his thumb, but as the season approaches, the depth is getting dangerously thin.

“We feel good about the group that we have right now,” McVay said Monday. “We’re going to continue to evaluate it. But thought both Jake and Xavier showed some really good things. And then we know the confidence that we have in Darrell.”

He was then asked if Funk and Jones will be ready for Week 1 as Henderson’s backups, or if the team will have to bring someone in. McVay didn’t shoot down the idea of adding help, but he also doesn’t sound motivated to sign a veteran.

“I think we’re still in the process of figuring all that out,” he said. “We got a little bit of time. Darrell is a guy that’s been established and done some good things. But I was pleased with both those guys and Thomas does an excellent job leading that group.”

Going into the season with only three running backs – Henderson, Funk and Jones – would be a huge risk. Henderson has durability concerns, Funk tore his ACL twice in college and Jones has never gotten a carry in the regular season. It’s an inexperienced group and one that has dealt with injuries in the past.

It doesn’t help that in the preseason finale, the Rams are down to just Funk, Jones and Anderson to handle all of the carries. That puts them at greater risk of injury in a meaningless game, especially now that Funk and Jones are all but guaranteed to make the team.

If the Rams are going to bring in veteran help, Duke Johnson, T.J. Yeldon, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson are all out there. Le’Veon Bell is, too, but he’s clearly lost a step. Bo Scarborough is a younger back who runs really hard, which makes him a possibility.

On the trade market, Sony Michel’s name has been tossed out a bunch as potentially being on the block thanks to the Patriots’ depth at the position. He’s been a disappointment in New England, but he would at least give the Rams a proven running back behind Henderson in the event that he gets hurt.

Rosters have to get down to 53 players by next Tuesday, so the clock is ticking for the Rams to make a move if they want to evaluate the player before Week 1. They don’t sound intent on adding help, but it’s absolutely worth considering right now.