Sean McVay explains why Rams traded for Sony Michel and what he brings to LA

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It wasn’t hard to see that the Rams probably needed help at running back. Cam Akers tore his Achilles, Raymond Calais fractured his foot and Darrell Henderson Jr. sprained his thumb. Bringing in some depth and talent was always an option, and they exercised that option this week by acquiring Sony Michel from the Patriots.

Looking at the trade, it’s not a question of why the Rams brought in a running back, but why their top choice was Michel. He was arguably the best option out there, with the free-agent market looking barren with guys who could come in and contribute right away.

With Michel, the Rams are getting a proven back who scored six touchdowns in the postseason as a rookie – including the only touchdown in Super Bowl LIII, a score the Rams would rather forget.

Sean McVay explained Thursday why the Rams traded for Michel, highlighting his physicality as a runner.

“It was an opportunity to acquire a really good player that’s had a lot of success,” McVay said. “He offers a physical presence to our room. We feel good about the running back situation, but some of the volatility of what Darrell has gone through even just throughout the course of camp, wanted to make sure you got somebody else that’s played in big time games, that brings a physical presence to that room.”

McVay has said multiple times that he likes what he’s seen from the Rams’ current running back group, with Henderson, Jake Funk and Xavier Jones. But Michel brings something that neither Funk nor Jones has: experience.

Michel has rushed 535 times for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in his three-year career. All of those numbers are more than the Rams’ entire running back group combined.

McVay is still figuring out what Michel’s exact role will be, but having a proven back to deploy with Henderson was a point of emphasis for both McVay and Les Snead this week.

“Experience, playing in the big-time games,” McVay said of what Michel brings. “I think he’s a nice complement to what we already have in terms of when you look at the confidence that we have in Darrell Henderson and what he’s been able to do when he’s been available for us. Then, like I said, I’ve been really pleased with what Jake Funk’s done over the last really couple weeks. Really showing great maturity for a rookie player, did some really good things out here today. So, I think Sony definitely helps solidify just the foundation of that room, but what his role is, is to be determined. He’s got a track record that kind of and a resume that speaks for itself.”

Unless there’s an injury to either Henderson or Michel, the Rams are unlikely to have a true workhorse back this season. But McVay wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Michel becoming a dominant back in Los Angeles. He pointed to the Rams’ 24-3 win over the Patriots last season as an example of a back taking control of the workload, with Cam Akers carrying it a career-high 29 times for 171 yards.

“You never know because if you had told me that some of those games were going to come up, that wasn’t necessarily part of the plan,” he said. “But you think about the games like New England is the one that comes to mind, I didn’t anticipate us being able to run the ball that efficiently and stick with the ground game. But if you can do that, you’re going to continue to activate that part of your offense. Is he capable of it? Absolutely. His track record says that. Whether that becomes exactly what happens with us or not is to be determined.”

There’s still a lot to be determined with the Rams right now, but at least they can feel comfortable knowing they now have two starting-caliber running backs again.