In 2018 the Washington Redskins - like the 2021 Los Angeles Rams - had their answer at running back. Or so they thought.
So much for best-laid plans.
Watching the Rams suddenly scrambling to find a No. 1 running back in the wake of star Cam Akers suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, WFT can empathize.
After averaging only 90 yards on the ground in 2017, Washington drafted LSU running back Derrius Guice 59th overall. While the front office proclaimed him a steal, head coach Jay Gruden named him the starter.
It didn't last long, as Guice tore the ACL in his left knee in Washington's preseason opener. He missed the entire season, then came back in 2019 only to suffer a torn meniscus in his right knee in the season opener. He played in only five games in Washington, rushing for just 245 yards before being released - in part because of a string of legal troubles - and never again stepping foot on an NFL field.
Not that the Rams' season is derailed, because almost every team in the league can relate to having its grand plans re-routed even before the first snap of the season. In fact, in 2018 Washington hurriedly replaced Guice with a 33-year-old silver lining who stepped in, started all 16 games and produced 1,000 yards rushing and seven touchdowns:
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Akers, a shifty scatback drafted in the second round out of Florida State in 2020, was expected to be the focal point of the Rams' running game again this season after his breakout rookie campaign when he averaged 113 yards over the final seven games. In 13 games, Akers was the Rams' leading rusher with 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
But now, before commencing training camp, the Rams are scurrying for a running back to star in the same backfield with newly acquired quarterback Matt Stafford.
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And other teams around the league are also already negotiating running back injuries, including the San Francisco 49ers and Jeff Wilson (potentially out until Week 7 after knee surgery) and the New York Giants and Saquon Barkley (still recovering from last season's torn ACL with no definite timetable for a return).
Of course WFT will also be holding its breath at training camp as star defensive end Chase Young deals with lingering hip and groin injuries that plagued him during 2020.
This type of early injury isn't new to the Rams organization. In a 1999 preseason game against the Chicago Bears, starting quarterback Trent Green was sacked and suffered torn knee ligaments.
His replacement? Fellow named Kurt Warner.