By Cedric Williams
Through his first four games as a professional football player with the St. Louis Rams, rookie running back Zac Stacy could barely manage to get on the field, let alone make any headway with the ball in his hands.
Second-year man Daryl Richardson was named the starting running back during training camp, with fellow second-year player Isaiah Pead holding down the No. 2 tailback slot.
That left little room for Stacy, who starred in college at Vanderbilt and was just the eighth player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
But with Richardson struggling to produce and Pead seemingly entrenched in head coach Jeff Fisher’s doghouse, Stacy got his chance last Sunday against Jacksonville, and delivered a solid performance — 14 carries, 78 yards, no fumbles, and few very negative plays.
“(We) would’ve liked to see him get more carries, but that was the way the game went,” Fisher said. “He was hitting the holes and he had yards after contact — violent yards, as we refer to them at the running back position. He got where he needed to in the passing game and I thought on protection, he was excellent.’’
And because of Stacy’s splendid effort and performance in the Rams 34-20 win over the Jaguars, the 5’8, 214-pound rookie will get his second start this Sunday, when St. Louis travels down to Texas to take on the Houston Texans.
“I think we’ll probably start this game off the same way we did yesterday,” Fisher said on Monday to make it official.
Stacy’s 78-yard game with the third-best rushing day by a Rams rookie in nearly a decade.
Last year, Richardson had 83 yards in the home opener against the Washington Redskins — the second-best Rams rookie rushing day ever, with Brian Leonard holding the record at 102 yards in a game against the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.
Special Teams Penalties Becoming A Major Problem
The other issue Fisher spoke about most on Monday was St. Louis’ atrocious numbers on special teams.
And it’s not the yardage gained or not gained that had Fisher in a grumpy mood, it’s the number of penalties the club has committed, specifically on special teams plays.
Through five games, the Rams have been called for 17 penalties on punt, kickoff, field goal, or extra-point tries this year.
That’s an unbelievably high number, especially when you consider that the Rams have only committed 16 penalties combined on offense and defense this year.
“Obviously the penalties are a concern,” Fisher said. “We addressed it this morning (with) each and every one of them.
“As I mentioned several weeks ago, there were some of those (calls) that I disagreed with. I think I can point out one or two more in the (Jacksonville) game. That’s just our game right now, and sometimes there’s mistakes… I’m confident that we’ll get that behind us. We’ll get it corrected.”
They had better. Houston will be coming into Sunday having lost three games in a row, and will be looking to take advantage of any edge the Rams might give them.
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at email@example.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.