RB Mason making his mark for Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) Tre Mason came to St. Louis Rams training camp conceding nothing and frowning at the notion he'd be a change of pace running back.

Mason's breakaway ability earned him the lion's share of the carries several weeks ago and he's coming off the biggest game of his young career.

Yet, the third-round pick from Auburn isn't taking anything for granted.

''I told myself I want to be one of the best players to ever to touch the football, so every day I try to get better,'' Mason said. ''Another person's talent can sneak up to you, so try to get better every day.''

Mason broke out against Oakland last Sunday. It took him just four carries to break the 100-yard mark and Mason finished with 14 carries for 117 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. He also caught three balls for 47 yards and another score in the 52-0 blowout win.

Mason's 89-yard touchdown early in the second quarter effectively put the game away.

''It was pretty exciting,'' Rams offensive tackle Greg Robinson said. ''It was called to my side, but he cut it back and I just looked upside and I seen him running down the sidelines and I'm like, `man, that's crazy.'''

As evidenced by the long touchdown run, Mason has supplied a big-play threat to the St. Louis backfield. Since seeing his first action in Week 5, Mason has gained 562 yards on 122 carries, a 4.6-yard average.

''We knew he'd have the explosive plays, but again the thing I keep saying each and every week is how strong and how physical he runs in between the tackles,'' Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. ''The run game is his comfort level.

''There's still some things he needs to do from a protection standpoint that we're staying on him about and I think he just needs to continue to focus on the details and the reads and things like that. But again, I think he's just scratching the surface of what he can do, and now he needs to continue it and put back-to-back games together.''

Robinson isn't surprised by Mason's production. The Rams' top pick this spring, he saw plenty of Mason's play-making ability as his teammate at Auburn.

''I kind of figured when he got his opportunity and his chance he was going to be an impact player,'' Robinson said.

St. Louis travels to Washington on Sunday. The Redskins are ninth against the rush in the NFL, surrendering 102.8 yards a game.

But the toughest challenge for a running back playing Washington's pressure defense is pass protection, especially for a rookie with just a handful of NFL starts.

''I think potentially it could be any running back's biggest challenge this year with what they're doing,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ''Again, the challenge with the noise, the running back who is basically the farthest away from the adjustments, so he's going to have to be able to anticipate and be on the same page.''

Mason knows the Rams success this week hinges on more than just his rushing stats.

''We know that they do a lot of exotic blitzes and things like that, so be patient and make sure everything is all blocked up and ready before you get out,'' Mason said.

Robinson said it's a source of pride for offensive linemen to have running backs breaking off big gains consistently, but it's really special when that back is a long-time friend.

''Just to see that hard work paying off and to see him get more comfortable back there,'' Robinson said, ''it's a wonderful feeling.''

NOTES: William Hayes (not injury related), Rodger Saffold (shoulder), Chris Long (ankle) and Davin Joseph (not injury related) did not practice for the Rams on Thursday. Scott Wells (not injury related), James Laurinaitis (ankle), Will Herring (foot) and Marcus Roberson (ankle) were full participants.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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