Running back Daryl Richardson let the cat out of the bag when he tweeted that he wasn’t starting this week.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Richardson spent Wednesday afternoon trying to put it back in the bag.
“Haven’t decided yet,” Fisher said when asked who was starting against Jacksonville. “We’ll probably play most if not all of the running backs who are active.”
The starter, Fisher continued, “depends on what package we’re in, you know, when we start the game. ... We’ve got different things, and different style runners, and we’ve got different things for different backs.”
Richardson’s since-deleted tweet came in response to a fan asking him if he was starting this week. “Not this week, man,” was Richardson’s reply.
“That was just brought to my attention,” Fisher said, at his post-practice media session. “I was surprised about that. But we haven’t gone in one direction or the other right now.”
Fisher said the Rams have a social media policy in place for players, and that he planned to discuss the tweet with Richardson.
“He just needs to be more thoughtful about his responses,” Fisher said. “It’s really not going to affect the outcome of the game.”
True. It’s not like the Jaguars coaching staff is scrambling to re-invent their defensive game plan following Richardson’s tweet. After all, the Rams’ running game has been so ineffective — particularly the past two games — that it hasn’t had much of an impact, at least not in a positive way.
Richardson was named the starter by Fisher during training camp, a decision undoubtedly influenced by the fact that he was easily the most experienced back at an extremely young position, albeit with a modest 98 carries as a rookie in 2012.
But Richardson suffered a foot injury in the season opener against Arizona and has lacked his usual burst and decisiveness ever since. As a result, Fisher and the Rams are still looking for answers in the backfield and have been all over the map in terms of who’s been used from week to week.
After being suspended for the season opener against Arizona for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Isaiah Pead was on the field for 29 plays in Game 2 in Atlanta, and 42 plays with 13 touches in Dallas. Pead then was on the inactive list for Game 4 against San Francisco.
Undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham was used sparingly in the first two games, but then was in for 33 plays in Dallas and played most of the second half (25 plays) against San Francisco. He had eight carries and two receptions combined against the Cowboys and 49ers.
Among the top four running backs, that leaves only Zac Stacy yet to see extensive playing time. The fifth-round draft pick from Vanderbilt was on the inactive list for Games 2 and 3, and has been on the field for only eight snaps, with one carry, so far this season.
Will Sunday be Stacy’s turn at bat?
“Right now, we don’t know who’s starting for sure,” Stacy said. “We’re all very capable backs. ... Every back that we have on this roster is capable of making plays.”
That may be true, but it hasn’t been displayed one quarter of the way through the season.
Being the starter, Stacy said, “would mean a lot. It would just be a reflection of the coaches putting their trust in me. My mentality coming into this stage (the NFL) is being productive, being consistent week in and week out.”
It’s obvious that Fisher and his coaching staff are looking for someone to grab the job and run with it. Literally.
Nothing close to that has taken place so far, with the Rams ranking dead last (32nd) in rushing offense and averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per carry.
If Stacy indeed starts and/or gets a lot of work against the Jaguars, quarterback Sam Bradford expressed confidence that he could be effective.
“Zac’s done a really good job since he’s been here, just trying to understand the offense, understand the blocking schemes, his protection assignments,” Bradford said. “He’s a very talented runner. You look at what he was able to do in college. Did he lead the SEC (in rushing) or was close to it? Behind a not-great offensive line.
“He’s a powerful guy. He’s got great vision. He’s able to see things. He makes cuts in the hole that are quick and decisive, so I’m excited to see him out there.”
As for Richardson, he had no idea that a fairly innocent tweet would create such a fuss.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Somebody had asked me if I was gonna be the starter. Basically, I kind of told him I really don’t know, but I wasn’t for sure if I was gonna be the starter or not. ... I was just talking to one of my fans.”
Richardson was asked if anyone on the coaching staff had informed him that he wasn’t starting.
“Not really telling me I wasn’t starting, but he was saying it was gonna be a competition,” said Richardson, who didn’t name the coach. “(The coach) hasn’t really been specific about who’s gonna be the starter, but everybody’s been getting reps. So we’re not for sure who’s gonna be the starter until Sunday.”
Richardson said his foot felt “pretty good.” But he still doesn’t look like he has the acceleration he had prior to the injury.