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Rams Gab Position Previews – Runningback

We are going to be previewing every position on the Rams here at the eve of training camp.  Next up is the running backs.

Steven Jackson

sj39 is one of the premier running backs in the NFL and has game-changing ability when healthy.  “When healthy” being the key here.  Jackson held out for a new contract last year and had an abbreviated training camp.  He picked up an injury in the middle of the 2008 season, tried to come back early from it and re-injured himself.  A full training camp will help Jackson in 2009 immensely, as will an improved offensive line.  Jackson will be able to control the contact he receives against linebackers and safeties rather than defensive lineman squashing him in the backfield.
Jackson is the cornerstone of the Rams offense and the leader of the St. Louis squad.  Coach Spagnuolo has stated that the Rams offense will be centered around Jackson, so this year will be a huge year for Jackson to prove that he can carry an offense for the full 16 games.

The rest of the RBs are after the jump.

Antonio Pittman

Antonio Pittman has been the number 2 running back with the Rams for two years and has put in a few starts when Steven Jackson has been injured.  He has shown flashes of the ability that makes the Rams coaches so excited about him.  However, he is undersized and needs a good, clear hole to be a successful running back.  The Rams new and improved offensive line should help him as well.  He is no longer the clear cut #2 running back for the Rams as he is being challenged by 2008 free agent pick up Ken Darby and 2009 7th round draftee Chris Ogbonnaya.

Kenneth Darby

Ken Darby was picked up off the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons after being drafted and cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Darby was one of the few highlights of the 2008 season for the Rams as he had plenty of opportunities to run and catch the ball for the Rams.  Ideally, Darby would be a third down back as he has showcased good pass-catching skills out of the backfield and a good ability to make tacklers miss.  He will simply have to learn to avoid the umpire in the middle of the field.

Chris Ogbonnaya

The Rams drafted Chris Ogbonnaya in the 7th round in the 2009 NFL draft out of Texas.  He never was a full time starter in Texas and switched to running back from wide receiver.  He has great speed and potential.  Look for him to be used sparingly to catch passes out of the backfield or even line up wide for the Rams in 2009.  He could be a good 3rd down running back in 2010 and beyond.  He will also have a lot of value on special teams in 2009.

Samkon Gado

Sam Gado is a depth player for the Rams and special teams player if he makes the roster.  He’s a great story and all, but it will be a challenge for him to make the roster.  The Rams needed him in 2008 because of the rash of injuries and hopefully they won’t need Gado in 2009.

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