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Darrell Henderson creeping closer to rushing leaders as Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown fade away

LA Rams running back Darrell Henderson suffered a hamstring injury in training camp and played in only five snaps in Week 1. Since then, a combination of factors has led to him becoming the offense’s primary ball carrier and he is ninth in rushing yards in the NFL since Week 2.

Despite the Rams’ 24-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Henderson had 14 carries for 88 yards during his 32 snaps on the field.

Over the last five games, Henderson has 69 carries for 342 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 4.96 yards per carry. He has also caught seven passes for 96 yards and another touchdown. In that time period, only eight running backs have more yards and of those, only Joe Mixon has more receiving yards than Henderson. Compare his numbers in that time to Kareem Hunt, who has been hailed as a groundbreaking star reborn in Cleveland, and the Browns back has 70 attempts for 315 yards and three touchdowns, plus nine receptions for 71 yards and three other touchdowns in the passing game.

In total, Henderson has 438 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage on 76 touches.

When it comes to Henderson’s volume of touches, perhaps no factor has played a bigger part than the injuries and slow development of Cam Akers as the heir apparent to Todd Gurley. Akers was a second round pick in April and among those drafted ahead of him in that round includes Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. With starter Marlon Mack on injured reserve, Taylor has taken over as the lead and he has almost identical numbers to Henderson over the last five games: 80 carries, 345 yards, three touchdowns on the ground, 10 catches for 95 yards in the air.

Undrafted free agent rookie James Robinson has 85 carries for 362 yards and three touchdowns with the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, plus 23 catches for 207 yards and another touchdown.

This is not to say that Akers is well behind schedule, but his limitations as a back who has not proven he can block at the NFL level or that he is a threat on passing downs has helped propel Henderson to being LA’s number one option behind and next to Jared Goff. No other back on the roster, Akers or Malcolm Brown, has come as close to looking like Gurley’s replacement.

Brown had 18 carries in Week 1 and 11 in Week 2, but has just 26 attempts for 91 yards over the last four games. He has been targeted an astounding 14 times and gained only 31 yards on those plays.

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