RB Cunningham, unlike starters, is sure to see significant action Thursday

ST. LOUIS — Unlike many NFL coaches, Rams coach Jeff Fisher is not one who typically rests his first-teamers in the preseason finale. Sam Bradford, for example, played long enough to throw for three touchdowns in the final exhibition a year ago.

Fisher, however, might be changing his way of thinking for the Rams’ preseason finale Thursday night against the Super Bowl champion Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome.

Then again, he might not. It was difficult to decipher the way he danced around playing-time questions following the Rams’ practice Tuesday.

“The philosophy has been to build reps throughout camp,” Fisher said. “That has been the way we’ve done it. We may adjust that ever so slightly this week.”

Does that mean the starters will play a fair amount?

“We’re going to make adjustments,” Fisher said. “That’s really all I can say.”

One Ram who can count on getting some playing time is running back Benny Cunningham. The undrafted rookie out of Middle Tennessee State has mounted a strong bid to make the roster, so much so that he now appears to be playing for more than a spot on the 53-man.

“I feel like I’ve done enough to show the coaches that I deserve to be here,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully, they see that.”

You can be sure they have. Heading into preseason game No. 4, Cunningham remains in the running to be Daryl Richardson’s primary backup. Cunningham’s main competition looks to be Isaiah Pead, who is suspended for the season opener, and fifth-round pick Zac Stacy out of Vanderbilt.

Cunningham has averaged almost 4 yards a carry in the first three preseason games, gaining 47 yards on 12 carries with a long of 17. He also has caught a couple of short passes and impressed Fisher with a 33-yard kickoff return against the Broncos.

“I feel like I’ve done a pretty decent job in the preseason games with the opportunities I have gotten,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully, I can continue to do that in this next one.”

Even if he doesn’t know how much he might play against the Ravens.

“Coach hasn’t said what the rotation will be as far as running back,” Cunningham said. “I am preparing myself like I would if I was starting the game.”

Cunningham was enjoying a strong senior season at Middle Tennessee State last year until he suffered a season-ending left knee injury in the fourth quarter of his sixth game. He already had gained 600 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. While the injury held him back for months, Cunningham shows no ill effects these days. Listed at 5-10, 217, he could provide a more physical presence than Richardson.  

He certainly isn’t lacking for confidence. While some players cut by the Rams this week have expressed hope that other teams now have tape to watch of their training camp work, Cunningham isn’t concerned with such details.

“I look at is as I’ll be playing for the Rams this season,” he said.

He’ll be playing Thursday night for sure, even if only his coach knows how much.


* The Rams released linebacker Jabara Williams and removed offensive guard Ryan Lee from the roster (waived/injured) to get to the league-mandated 75-man limit by 3 p.m.

* Defensive end Chris Long did not practice again Tuesday. Fisher on Monday said Long is fine. The Rams worked for almost two hours in steamy conditions Tuesday afternoon. Fisher said the team will dial it back Wednesday in preparation for the preseason finale.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.