Time for Stacy to take turn as Rams' RB

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
8:00
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. – Four games into the season, the St. Louis Rams have tried almost every possibility on the roster in the on-going effort to replace running back Steven Jackson.

Daryl Richardson has been the primary starter. Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham have gotten repetitions as the backup.

[+] EnlargeZac Stacy
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonZac Stacy is looking for a chance to lead St. Louis' running back committee.
The three have found little success and the result has been a running game that ranks last in the NFL, averaging a little more than 47 yards per game.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher indicated last week that the team would make some adjustments to try to get the run game going.

They can by giving rookie Zac Stacy an opportunity.

“I think Zac’s done a really good job since he’s been here,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “He’s a very talented runner. He’s a powerful guy. He’s got great vision. He makes cuts in the hole that are quick and decisive, so I’m excited to see him out there.”

After the whole Richardson/Twitter incident happened Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon, the Rams aren’t tipping their hand on which of the four running backs will make the start. Fisher indicated the team would opt for a committee approach this week.

That’s fine but it seems as though it’s time for Stacy to at least lead the committee. He’s getting ready as though the chance will be his.

“Right now we don’t know who is starting for sure,” Stacy said. “The only thing I’m doing is just preparing my butt off for the week. Hopefully the decision will be made later in the week. All the backs, we all prepare the same, we all get the same amount of situations in practice. We’ll all be ready.”

To be sure, there aren’t many backs in the league that would have much success playing behind the Rams' offensive line the past four weeks.

At the same time, none of the backs that have had opportunities has done much with the chances they have had. Defenders missing tackles have been few and far between and yards after contact have been kept to a minimum.

It may be a case of going with the devil you don’t know versus the one that you do but at this point, the Rams have little to lose by giving Stacy an opportunity.

The rookie from Vanderbilt has just one carry for 4 yards (in the opener against Arizona) to his name and was inactive in Weeks 2 and 3.

If nothing else, Stacy brings knowledge of a pro-style offense not too different from the one he played in with the Commodores and an understanding of all the little things he has to have to start and stay on the field after.

Of course, he’s far from a finished product and he’ll have his share of growing pains as he adjusts to the NFL.

“(It’s) really just being able to think fast,” Stacy said. “Obviously pass protection, staying in tune with that and just doing all the little things. At this level, it’s all about details to the T.”

One way to stay on the field would be to provide something resembling decent pass protection for Bradford.

All four backs have a negative grade from Pro Football Focus in pass blocking though Stacy’s is closest to neutral, in no small part because of a small sample size. But Stacy had a reputation as a good pass=blocker coming out of college and his improvement in that regard is more linked to learning assignments than a willingness to do it.

That’s just one example of the little details Stacy hopes can earn him a chance.

“Playing this position at this level is all about versatility, just being able to not only run but pass block, catch routes out of the backfield,” Stacy said. “That’s one of the things I want to bring to the table.”

It’s unrealistic to expect Stacy to step in and be a savior for the Rams running game. He may not run for 100 yards or rip off big gains every carry but it’s not about a drastic turnaround. For now, the Rams just need to find something serviceable and go from there.

Whether Stacy can provide it remains to be seen but it’s his turn to try.

“Whenever my name is called I’ll just take advantage of the opportunity,” Stacy said.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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