Do Rams have backup to Steven Jackson?

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
11:01
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My weekend featured lots of family time and, when no one was looking, an opportunity to review a couple of 2009 NFC West games I'd been meaning to revisit.

One of those games -- St. Louis at Arizona in Week 16 -- featured a forgotten performance that could help explain why the Rams haven't been particularly aggressive in seeking a backup running back this offseason. This was the only game Jackson missed, so there were lots of chances to evaluate his backups.

[+] EnlargeOgbonnaya
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRunning back Chris Ogbonnaya might have set himself up for more touches in 2010.
Chris Ogbonnaya, a seventh-round draft choice in 2009, played extensively and showed good versatility.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch touched on the Rams' options, including Ogbonnaya, in a piece published Monday. Here are a few things I noticed about Ogbonnaya from that Arizona game:

  • The Rams left him in the game across personnel groups and situations. Some rookies have a hard time in protection. Ogbonnaya did not. The Rams left Ogbonnaya alone in the backfield 24 times by my count, including 11 times from four-receiver personnel. Ogbonnaya stood up to Cardinals defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema on one third-down play. He was not a liability in protection.
  • Ogbonnaya broke Gerald Hayes' tackle on his first NFL carry, gaining 4 yards on first-and-10 from the St. Louis 8.
  • Ogbonnaya falls forward with the ball, maximizing yardage.
  • Ogbonnaya outperformed veteran players such as tackle Alex Barron and tight end Randy McMichael. Barron allowed a sack to Bertrand Berry on the third-down play when Ogbonnaya picked up Iwebema. McMichael dropped two passes.
  • Ogbonnaya powered through initial contact for an 8-yard gain on a third-and-1 run with two tight ends and two backs on the field for St. Louis, but he also showed good quickness and elusiveness in this game. He made defenders miss while picking up 19 yards on a reception from three-receiver personnel. He also beat the Cardinals for an 18-yard gain on a draw play from four-receiver personnel.

One performance can only reveal so much, but I didn't see obvious limitations when Ogbonnaya was in the game. He carried nine times for 45 yards and caught one pass for 19 yards. The Rams had many problems in this game, from rookie quarterback Keith Null's inexperience to injuries on the offensive line. Ogbonnaya appeared to be a bright spot.

The chart shows every play in the Rams-Cardinals game when Ogbonnaya carried the ball or was targeted in the passing game. These 11 plays gained 56 yards.

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