NOVEMBER 25: Williams has now officially been activated off of injured reserve. The second-year rusher out of Notre Dame had been one of the NFL’s most fun surprises in the early weeks of the season, racking up 561 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns in six games. Freeman has done his best to handle the Rams’ rushing attack since Williams and Rivers went down, but Williams provides a significant upgrade to the offense in Los Angeles.
Joining Williams on the active roster off of IR is safety Jason Taylor II. Taylor was initially considered a sleeper candidate to win the starting safety job next to Jordan Fuller in the preseason but only saw special teams snaps before being placed on IR after the team’s Week 1 contest. His activation comes at just the right time as Quentin Lake, the team’s starting free safety for the past two games, has been ruled out this week in Arizona. Taylor will compete with John Johnson for snaps behind Fuller and Russ Yeast.
Los Angeles had already cleared space for Williams, but in order to make room for Taylor, the Rams waived offensive tackle Zachary Thomas. Thomas made two in-game appearances, getting some run on the line during the team’s loss to Cincinnati earlier this season but has been inactive ever since.
NOVEMBER 22: The Rams waiving Darrell Henderson provided a fairly clear indication Kyren Williams was ready to come off IR. The team began that transition officially Wednesday, designating the second-year running back for return.
Missing the minimum four games, Williams will be eligible to play in Week 12. Although the Rams have three weeks from today to activate the former fifth-round pick, it seems likely that transaction will take place ahead of this week’s Cardinals matchup.
Los Angeles lost its top two RBs — Williams and Ronnie Rivers — during its initial matchup with Arizona. Williams landed on IR with an unspecified ankle injury shortly after that Week 6 game. This marked the second straight season in which an ankle malady forced Williams to IR. The Notre Dame product missed rookie-year time because of a high ankle sprain, but he did not serve as L.A.’s starter last season. He moved into that role immediately in Year 2.
Williams showed promise before his latest ankle injury, putting together two 100-yard rushing performances in his past three games. During the game in which he sustained the injury, Williams blazed for a career-high 158 yards — nearly all of them coming after halftime. For the season, Williams has 456 yards and six touchdowns. After four weeks of using backs that were not on the team’s initial 53-man roster, the Rams’ offense stands to receive a boost soon.
Trading Cam Akers to clear a path for Williams and ending a multiyear separation saga, the Rams turned to veterans Henderson and Royce Freeman as their backfield mainstays during Williams’ latest IR stint. Henderson averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. While Freeman has been more efficient (4.3 YPC), the sixth-year back — who began the season on the Rams’ practice squad — will likely serve as a Williams sidekick moving forward. Rivers, who suffered a PCL sprain, has not returned to practice. The Rams still have sixth-round rookie Zach Evans on their roster, but Henderson and Freeman leapfrogged the TCU and Ole Miss product.
The Rams also designated safety Jason Taylor II for return on Wednesday. Drafted in the seventh round (and not related to the Hall of Fame defensive end), Taylor has not played since Week 1. The Rams have four IR activations remaining.