8:01pm: Head coach Sean McVay provided an update to the situation this evening, informing the media that Williams and Rivers are “going to be out for a little bit,” per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. For now, it’s unclear just how long he expects to be without his top two rushing options, but it’s believed that it will be challenging for Williams and Rivers to return anytime relatively soon.
With the stables bare, as mentioned below, Evans becomes a key piece in the running game. Freeman will likely find his way into some snaps off the practice squad, as well.
3:57pm: The Rams will need to make some adjustments to their backfield depth chart moving forward. Although their run game took over in the second half against the Cardinals on Sunday, both the team’s top two backs sustained injuries.
Kyren Williams zoomed to a career-best 158-yard day in Los Angeles’ comfortable win, but the second-year back suffered a sprained ankle. While Williams is not yet a lock to miss Week 7, Ronnie Rivers appears done for the foreseeable future. The L.A. RB2 suffered a grade 3 PCL strain, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. Rivers is expected to miss at least four games, making him a clear IR candidate for the 3-3 team.
The past year has already brought a significant backfield overhaul for the Rams, who waived Darrell Henderson in November 2022 and traded Cam Akers to the Vikings in what amounted to a September salary dump. Using Henderson, Akers and Sony Michel as their primary backs in the early 2020s, the Rams started over this season (Henderson remains a free agent). Williams is now their lead back, and after an injury-abbreviated rookie season, the Notre Dame product has become a promising player for the retooling franchise. The Rams’ ground attack ranks 18th through six games.
Chosen in last year’s fifth round, Williams has notched two 100-yard rushing games over his past three and has operated as the team’s clear-cut starter throughout the season. After a 141-snap rookie year, Williams has been on the field for 337 offensive plays in 2023. That amounts to an 82% snap rate. Although Williams may need a week to recover, he does not look to be an IR candidate. If Rivers — a 2022 UDFA out of Fresno State — lands on IR, he will not be eligible to return until Week 12.
After closing an off-and-on impasse with Akers by sending him to Minnesota, the Rams only have sixth-round rookie Zach Evans behind Williams and Rivers on their 53-man roster. A former five-star recruit, the TCU and Ole Miss back flashed in college but never totaled a 1,000-yard rushing season. He finished with 936 in his one Ole Miss campaign. But Evans (four carries, 10 yards thus far in his pro career) figures to see more run going forward, particularly if Williams is forced to miss time. Rivers’ injury also figures to impact Royce Freeman, whom the Rams have stashed on their practice squad. The sixth-year back obviously brings far more experience compared to Evans. The former third-round pick has played in three games this season but has only seen time on special teams.