Being a running back is a tough job. Being a Rams running back has to be tougher.
The Rams grapple with a series of key injuries as they begin defending their Super Bowl 56 championship: Matthew Stafford has a mysterious elbow injury, Jalen Ramsey is working his way back from shoulder surgery and two Rams running backs are hit on the shelf Monday.
Both leads in the Rams running-back tandem, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson, are struggling with “soft-tissue injuries,” according to Rams head coach Sean McVay. There’s no timeline for both guys to return, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be too long before they return to the field.
“The first goal for these guys is that we tick the box so they feel like they can really open up.” McVay said Monday. “No restrictions. I don’t know if you ever feel really good walking forward, especially walking back, but we want to be smart about it.”
MORE: QB Rankings | RB Ranking | WR Rankings | Buy NFL tickets
While the running back room should be complete by the start of the regular season, it’s still a concern: Both Akers and Henderson struggled with injuries in 2021, though that didn’t stop the Rams from reaching Super Bowl 56 — and winning.
Here’s what Los Angeles is dealing with as they work their way through the preseason and around those injuries:
Rams RB depth chart
1. Cam Akers (injured)
Statistics 2021: N/A (injured)
Akers is currently struggling with an undisclosed ‘soft tissue injury’ suffered by Sean McVay but is expected to take the lead early in the 2022 season.
Akers may be No. 1 on the table, but he’ll split those carries evenly with Darrell Henderson if he’s healthy. Los Angeles offers a play-action heavy offensive offense and has been very even on a running back by committee deal the past two seasons.
Akers is entering his third year with the Rams after being selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
2. Darrell Henderson (injured)
Statistics 2021: 12 games, 149 rushes, 688 yards, five touchdowns, 176 receiving yards, three touchdowns.
Henderson had his own injury woes in 2021. He had an MCL sprain and was placed on IR at week 16, effectively ending his season. But it didn’t really end his season: Henderson returned just in time for Super Bowl 56 despite not playing a major role there. He grabbed a few passes for 43 yards.
On August 15, McVay mentioned that Henderson also had a “soft tissue injury,” but the plan was to make sure both he and Akers were ready for the regular season, making it seem like a bit of stress management rather than a serious injury. However, given his past injury troubles, it’s worth keeping an eye on him.
3. Jake Funk
Statistics 2021: 10 games, two carries, five rushing yards.
Funk was active for 10 games in 2021 but rushed for five total yards via two carries.
The sophomore running back is entering his sophomore year after being selected in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft, making him somewhat of an unknown this season. Funk also had his injury woes, suffering a hamstring injury and hitting IR during the season.
4. Kyren Williams (injured)
Statistics 2021: N/A (Beginner)
The rookie runner from Notre Dame could actually have an opportunity during preseason for some carries to move up the depth chart. Only Jake Funk is sitting in front of him at the moment, the team is taking its time with both Henderson and Akers.
There’s one small issue, though: Williams broke his foot during the OTAs, and Sean McVay isn’t sure if he’ll play preseason or not as he continues to work his way back from the injury.
But with Henderson and Akers’ injuries, it sounds like Williams will get his chance.