ST. LOUIS — Rams running back Daryl Richardson is not shy about his intentions.
“I want to be the starter,” he said Friday afternoon. “It’s very important. I know I can contribute a lot to the team.”
This time last summer, such a proclamation would have caused great laughter around the NFL. As the next-to-last player picked in the 2012 draft, the Abilene Christian product was a long shot to make the team. But when second-round pick Isaiah Pead stumbled in training camp, Richardson stepped up. He not only made the team but ended up as the Rams’ second-leading rusher behind Steven Jackson.
With Jackson moving on to Atlanta and the Rams choosing not to bring in a veteran to replace him, Richardson’s successful rookie season makes him No. 1 on the depth chart, at least for now.
While Richardson could end up in a trio with Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy, keep in mind that coach Jeff Fisher typically has gone with a main-man approach. But the varied skills each of his three young backs bring to the table could change his thinking.
“It’s not going to be out of the question that we don’t play two or three of them quite a bit,” Fisher said after the first day of camp on Thursday. “We might not end up with the quote, bell cow, like we had with Jack, and just let them all play.”
But if someone steps forward as the man, Fisher isn’t about to hold him back.
“One of them may emerge and carry it 350 times this year,” Fisher said. “I’m not saying we don’t have one that can. We just haven’t seen him do it yet.”
Of the three, Richardson would seem to be the least likely to end up carrying the ball 20-plus times a game. At 220 pounds, Stacy is the biggest of the trio and knows a thing or two about gaining tough yards from playing in the SEC behind a mediocre offensive line at Vanderbilt. Pead possesses the best well-rounded skills of the three while Richardson is a speed back who does his best work in the open field.
“Everybody has a lot to bring to the table,” Richardson said.
What does he bring?
“I’m a good, quality running back. I can do a little bit of everything,” he said.
His skills should play well in a Rams offense that will rely more on an open attack instead of pounding away with Jackson. “I think it’s going to open up some,” Richardson said. “I hope so.”
Even after adding receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Richardson believes he’s still one of the three fastest Rams. He says he’s a bit quicker than a year ago after spending the offseason training in Dallas with his brother Bernard Scott, a backup running back for the Bengals.
The key to him winning the starter’s job will be reducing the mistakes. Two days into what will be about a month-long competition, Richardson likes his chances.
“We’re all trying to earn the position,” he said. “Right now, (Fisher is) trying to see what everybody can do. I’m feeling pretty good.” Get ready for some hitting: The Rams will hold their first full-squad workouts in pads on Saturday, Fisher said. Pads also will be worn Sunday in a workout for the special teams.
Finnegan gets paid back: Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was smacked with a plate of whipped cream to the face during a post-practice interview, courtesy of teammates Chris Long and Trumaine Johnson. Finnegan was due since he started the practice. Might that be the end? “It’s only going to get more fun now,” he said.