For the St. Louis Rams, the selection of wide receiver Tavon Austin in this year’s first round of the draft brought high expectations. Unfortunately it’s been a tough freshman year for the player and this week, he admitted as much. He still leads the team in catches at 31 but he only has 207 receiving yards. Fortunately for the Rams another one of their rookie picks is playing well and that’s running back Zac Stacy.
The fifth-round pick (No. 160 overall) from Vanderbilt has been a bright spot on the Rams and as his workload has been on the rise in his four starts, it was in last Monday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks that the player shined as a workhorse. He had 26 carries for 134 yards–the greatest total since the Rams Steven Jackson did so as a rookie in 2004.
Keep in mind this production came against Seattle, who had only allowed one other runner this season to go past the 100-yard mark and that was Houston Texans Arian Foster in Week 4 with his 102 yards.
Unfortunately Stacy went down with an ankle injury late in Monday’s game and has been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. He is expected to play.
This week, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of the rookie via USA Today, “Well, he’s been great. I always like to start with how he plays without the football. He’s doing a really good job in pass protection and getting to where he needs to get to as far as the route distribution stuff. He’s got great vision, and he’s a strong inside runner. It’s been a big boost to us.”
To-date, Stacy leads the team with his 348 rushing yards. In the last three of four games, he’s had 78 yards or more and is currently averaging 4.6 yards per carry for the season. In the air, he has seven receptions for 40 yards and one touchdown.
He has shined against his teammates, including fellow running backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Sophomore Richardson began the season as the Ram’s starter after Jackson joined the Atlanta Falcons this season and in the first month of play, he amassed a weak 2.71 yards per carry.
Pead, suspended for the first game of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, was inactive last week against the Seahawks. He appears to be in Fisher’s doghouse and for the season, has 7 carries for 21 yards.
Enter Stacy to take over the starting role. Compared to his fellow running backs or quarterbacks with at least 75 carries for the 2013 season, he is in good company as he’s only behind the Washington Redskins Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray and Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy when looking at yards-per-carry.
He has been compared to the San Francisco Giants running back Frank Gore for his running style and also as an “old Pittsburgh Steelers running back.”
The future looks bright with Stacy as the Rams back of the future but the same can’t be said of the Rams quarterback situation with Sam Bradford.