EARTH CITY, Mo. - The St. Louis Rams used two running backs on 12 percent of plays last season, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.
That's going to change in a big way under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
To that end, the Rams signed veteran fullback Ovie Mughelli on Saturday. Age (32) and a 2011 knee injury (torn MCL) made the two-time Pro Bowl choice available to NFL teams this offseason. The former lead blocker for Michael Turner in Atlanta has ties to the Rams' front office (general manager Les Snead), coaching staff (offensive line coach Paul T. Boudreau) and roster (guard Harvey Dahl) from their time together in Atlanta.
Mughelli, 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, played 38 percent of the Falcons' offensive snaps in 2010, a high number for a fullback in the current NFL.
The Rams used two backs 123 times last season, the fifth-lowest total in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That figure will surge with Schottenheimer taking over for Josh McDaniels as the Rams' offensive coordinator.
Schottenheimer's Jets ran 370 plays with two backs last season, the eighth-highest total in the league. That works out to 36 percent of the time for the Jets and 12 percent of the time for the Rams. The league average was 27 percent.
The knee injury Mughelli suffered against Detroit in October appeared grotesque on replays, but Mughelli assured fans the damage wasn't all that bad. Brit Miller, Todd Anderson and former tight end Ben Guidugli were the fullbacks under contract to St. Louis before Mughelli's addition.
Rams running back Steven Jackson has said he prefers running behind a fullback. He'll get that chance in 2012.
The Rams open training camp Sunday.