Here is what we know for sure about the 2010 Rams. We know that Sam Bradford is the future. We know that there is no Super Bowl in this team’s immediate future. We know that a winning record is not around the corner and we know that Steven Jackson is going to get the load of the offensive work for 2010. One of the things we don’t know, at this point, is will Jackson be able to start and play in all 16 games and who will back him up? We are pretty certain at this point that the Rams are concerned, and growing more concerned by the day, that they don’t really have anyone who can handle the running back situation, if and when, Jackson needs some time off.
On Monday the Rams officially found out that Brian Westbrook was not going to sign with the team, even though he received the highest dollar offer from the Rams. While I believe it would have been a good signing it was clear that Westbrook was more interested in being in a winning situation instead of getting the best financial deal. I totally agree with Westbrook on that point. So now that the Plan A of Westbrook signing with the Rams is gone and Plan B of Chris Ogbonnaya, Kenneth Darby or Keith Toston taking charge of the backup position seems to be drifting away, what options do the Rams have? Let’s go shopping for some potential answers…..
Willie Parker: Currently Parker sits on the Washington Redskins roster, but seems to be on the outside looking in to make the roster. Parker has suffered injuries throughout the past couple of seasons and the Rams did show interest in Parker during the offseason. Whether the Rams lost interest in Parker or vice versa remains unclear. Parker is clearly a stopgap player and if the Redskins are already thinking about dumping him then you have to wonder if he has any miles left on the odometer.
Tatum Bell: Last season Bell ran for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. While it certainly is not NFL caliber football it is somewhat competitive. Bell ran for 365 yards in one game last season so there is something in the tank. Bell has a history of fumbles and has had problems holding down an NFL job.
Adrian Peterson: This unfortunately for Rams fans is the other Adrian Peterson. This Peterson is not the one who is one of the NFL’s top running backs. Instead this is the running back that was cut by the Seahawks on Tuesday. Peterson is now 31 years old but has a respectable 4.1 yards per carry in his career and has experience to fill in behind Jackson.
Kolby Smith: The former Chiefs running back has dealt with an ankle injury that knocked him out of the end of last season and was cut by the Denver Broncos earlier this summer. He is another player that has had some chances but has not had a chance to develop for a variety of reasons.
Ian Johnson: We had a chance to see Johnson this week when the Vikings came to town for the preseason game and is a running back I liked coming out of college. The former Boise State running back will most likely lose out on the numbers game in Minnesota but I think he has a future in the NFL. The truth is though that when you are behind Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart then there is no future for Johnson with the Vikings.
Michael Robinson: This is a player that I have always kind of liked but has sat on the 49ers bench while Frank Gore has taken all of the carries. Robinson is most likely on the bubble after the signing of Westbrook and the drafting of Anthony Dixon in the offseason. Robinson is prone to fumbles but is an excellent special teams player as well.
What this list shows you is that unless there is a trade to be had out there, the Rams are in a tough spot. There is still time for the current running backs on the roster to make a name for themselves and earn the spot behind Steven Jackson. I am anxious to see if Keith Toston, the former Oklahoma State running back, has an opportunity to win the spot. It would be nice to see Toston get a half of football to see what he might have. What it looks like right now is the Rams are going to be hoping, and praying, that Steven Jackson doesn’t get hurt and someone will take the spotlight in the next three weeks. Saturday in Cleveland is another opportunity for someone, anyone, to take the job.
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