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4 Los Angeles Rams running back options on the heels of injury news

The Los Angeles Rams had to rely on former New England Patriots cast off Sony Michel to be their leading rusher a season ago due to injuries to Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers.

With Michel now on the Miami Dolphins, head coach Sean McVay and Co. are hoping that Henderson and Akers will be able to return to full health.

It’s not going too great. Both are currently sidelined to injury with no timetable to return.

“The first goal for those guys is, let’s check the box on them feeling like they can really open up. No restrictions,” McVay told reporters Monday. “I don’t know if you ever really feel great at any point moving forward, especially at running back, but we want to be smart with that.”

Sean McVay on Los Angeles Rams injury issues

The official designation is that both Akers and Henderson are dealing with “soft tissue” issues. McVay added that neither one will retun to the field until 100%. As for Akers, he played in just one game a season ago due to a torn Achilles.

These might be minor injuries in the grand scheme of things. With that said, any time a Super Bowl contender is down its top two running backs and has a star quarterback on a pitch count, it can’t be seen as a good thing.

Rams general manager Les Snead is among the most active at his position in the NFL. You better believe that he will scour the NFL free-agent market for a reinforcement. He might also look at who could be available in a trade. Below, we give you four options.

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Los Angeles Rams go with internal options, including rookie Kyren Williams

los angeles rams' kyren williams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A star running back during his time with Notre Dame, Williams was selected in the fifth round by Los Angeles this past spring. The dynamic back could make his preseason NFL debut on Friday after suffering a broken foot during the offseason.

The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Williams recorded over 2,800 total yards and 31 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Irish. That included him catching a combined 77 passes.

A seventh-round pick last year, Jake Funk could also see increased action with Akers and Henderson sidelined. The former Maryland standout played only 20 snaps on offense in 10 games a season ago. Funk tallied 16 rushing yards in the Rams win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

Related: Los Angeles Rams standing in Sportsnaut’s most-recent NFL power rankings

David Johnson heads to Southern California

los angeles rams sign david johnson
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

McVay values running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield in his scheme. While Johnson has struggled on the ground since earning a Pro Bowl spot with the division-rival Arizona Cardinals back in 2016, he sure can make an impact in the passing game.

Throughout his seven-year career, Johnson has tallied 273 receptions for 2,758 yards while hauling in 69% of his targets. Johnson, 30, wouldn’t necessarily be a three-down back. Instead, he’d add to the Rams’ depth in the backfield on the cheap.

Los Angeles Rams trade for Zack Moss

los angeles rams trade for zack moss
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an open question whether Moss will earn a spot on the Bills’ 53-man roster to break camp. Devin Singletary is considered RB1 in Western New York. Rookie second-round pick James Cook has looked good in camp and could be in line for a nice amount of usage behind Josh Allen in the backfield this season.

As for Moss, he’s impressed enough during the summer for other teams to show some interest in the running back’s services despite some struggles throughout his first two NFL seasons.

  • Zack Moss stats (2020-21): 826 rushing yards, 4.0 average, 37 receptions, 292 yards

Still only 24 years old and a couple years removed from being a third-round pick, a change of scenery could do Moss well. What better fit than in an offense with an elite-level passing game?

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Los Angeles Rams pull off blockbuster Saquon Barkley trade

NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

We can talk about the Rams’ lack of draft capital until we’re blue in the face. We can focus on their cap situation. That’s all fine and dandy. What we do know is that Les Snead doesn’t care about either aspect of team building. He’s all about winning now. And with the Rams coming off a Super Bowl title, this philosophy has worked.

On the other end of the spectrum, New York had Barkley on the trade block throughout the offseason. He’s entering the final year of his rookie deal and has no built-in relationship with the Giants’ new brass. Perhaps, the Los Angeles Rams come calling with the hope that he returns to earlier-career form.

Saquon Barkley stats (2018-19): 2,310 rushing yards, 143 receptions, 1,159 receiving yards, 3,469 total yards, 6.0 yards per touch, 23 TD

Imagine what this iteration of Barkley could do on a Rams offense led by Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson. It would be just too good.