Contact Form

    News Details

    Rams’ running back plans fluid ahead of Steelers game
    • October 21, 2023

    THOUSAND OAKS — Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got a call from his dad last week. Next game is against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he said, hometown team. He asked if his son if he was excited.

    For Donald, who still spends his offseasons in Pittsburgh and bases his foundation in the city, the excitement or playing his childhood team has worn off some over his 10-year career. The first time playing the Steelers, especially in then-Heinz Field, that was a big deal.

    “Now it’s just like, it’s cool to play against the team that I grew up watching and all that, but it’s just another week. Want to find a way to be successful, try to find a way to win this game,” Donald said. “I still consider myself a Steelers fan, obviously, until we got to play them.”

    The matchup Sunday between the Rams (3-3) and the Steelers (3-2) will be notable as much for the back and forth between Donald and Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt as it will be for a pair of running games with a lot of questions, for very different reasons.

    The Steelers’ are fairly more straightforward. The Pittsburgh offense was expected to be predicated on its run entering the season, but Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are averaging a total of 74.2 rushing yards per game.

    Harris told reporters this week that he spent the bye week spending extra time looking at film to identify changes that had to be made and presenting it to the coaching staff.

    “It’s going to be in this game plan,” Harris said. “It’s a lot more better looks in this stuff.”

    The Rams, meanwhile, thought they had found something with an explosive run performance in the second half of last weekend’s win over Arizona. But Kyren Williams (ankle) and Ronnie Rivers (knee) both suffered injuries that will keep them out for several weeks.

    Rivers was added to the injured reserve Wednesday, and Williams followed suit Saturday. Both will be eligible to return at the earliest for a Week 12 road trip to Arizona.

    Myles Gaskin was added to the active roster and Darrell Henderson returned to L.A. to join the practice squad, all in an effort to reinforce rookie Zach Evans and promoted practice squad member Royce Freeman.

    As of Friday, head coach Sean McVay said the Rams were still considering which running backs will be active against the Steelers. Henderson will be called up from the practice squad due to his familiarity as a former member of the offense. But whether the Rams activate all four running backs or just three – and which three – was still to be determined.

    “I liked what I saw from all four of those guys,” McVay said. “Darrell came back in. He’s a guy that’s going to be up and active this week. He’s done a great job of being able to quickly re-acclimate himself back to a lot of the things that we’ve done.”

    McVay did not disclose a starting running back, but Henderson’s familiarity with the Rams’ system could lend itself to an immediate role against the Steelers.

    Gaskin played in similar offenses in Miami and Minnesota, but said he’s treating the Rams’ playbook like he’s starting from scratch. Freeman has yet to make a carry this year, and Evans is still learning the system, as evidenced by his first snap against Arizona following Williams’ injury.

    Related Articles

    Los Angeles Rams |

    Rams RB Kyren Williams placed on injured reserve

    Los Angeles Rams |

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Rams: Who has the edge?

    Los Angeles Rams |

    Rams CB Derion Kendrick apologizes for distraction following arrest

    Los Angeles Rams |

    RB Myles Gaskin ready for new chance with Rams

    Los Angeles Rams |

    Rams CB Derion Kendrick returns to team facility for first time after arrest

    “Zach’s first play is this really intricate kind of motion that he’s got,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “And it’s like, ‘All right, you got to get out there,’ a little bit. So I’d spend a little extra time talking about that. He didn’t get that rep in practice and those kinds of things, but other times we just go play ball.”

    But the Rams’ plans at RB could change on the fly depending on how Sunday goes.

    “Sometimes with the back it is the hot hand, and you got to get in the rhythm,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “So you have your plan. Plans do change. The players do know that, but all four will be ready to go if their number is called.”

    ​ Orange County Register