EARTH CITY, Mo. -- While fellow St. Louis Rams running backs Zac Stacy, Daryl Richardson and Benny Cunningham have remained mainstays on the injury report the past few weeks, Isaiah Pead has found himself watching from the sideline. Some weeks he's been active, others he hasn't.
Tired of his inability to get an opportunity to help with the offense, Pead recently went to coach Jeff Fisher and made it clear he'd do whatever is necessary to get back on the field and contribute. So it was that Pead made his debut on special teams against Indianapolis last week, not as a returner but as a blocker on returns and working on coverage units.
"He wants to get on the field and we told him, ‘You have a role as a back and you have a future here as a back. But, you want to get on the field, you’re going to have to do some stuff on special teams,’" Fisher said. "So he’s been working really hard the last couple weeks at it, got his opportunity, and really did a nice job."
Pead played nine snaps on special teams and registered a tackle, according to unofficial press-box statistics. He also played a prominent role on Tavon Austin's 98-yard punt return for a touchdown by driving his man out of bounds to clear room for Austin. That performance drew the praise of Fisher.
"Really proud of him, the way he played," Fisher said. "They couldn’t block him and he filled in for guys when guys went down here and there. So he’s off to a good start from a [special] teams standpoint.”
Of course, it wasn't a flawless performance. Pead managed to draw a taunting penalty on the opening kickoff even though the kick didn't come out of the end zone.
“He just went by and said something," Fisher said. "I think the officials … they were going [to] set the tone early. Sometimes you see that, it’s not called. It happens all game long. This officiating crew was adamant about taunting and those kinds of things. They were on top of everything, to say the least.”
That Pead is settling into a special-teams role is a positive step for a player who hasn't had many in his season and a half in the NFL. Despite what appeared to be a wide-open situation at running back, Pead has been unable to get out of his own way to get opportunities to contribute to the offense. He played a combined 67 snaps on offense in Weeks 2 and 3 after returning from a one-game suspension.
From there, Pead essentially disappeared, playing two snaps on offense against Jacksonville but otherwise finding himself on the bench and on the pregame inactive list. Along the way, Fisher made a vague reference to possible disciplinary issues for Pead after he was inactive against San Francisco in Week 4.
Despite those issues, Fisher and general manager Les Snead both said this week that they still see a future for Pead with the team.
"A year and a half in, the hard thing is to be patient," Snead said. "You have got to give them a chance to get on the field. Go cover kicks, that’s step one. If you want to dress, go do that. When you get your chance, you’ve got to be ready to roll. I would say [Sunday] his stock went up a little."
A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories on ESPN.com. … The morning began with Ram-blings, followed by a lookat how defensive end Chris Long is keeping things light in celebration of his first career touchdown. … Next, we offered an entertaining interview from our Lindsay Czarniak with Tavon Austin in this week's "Pick 6" segment. … Finally, it was a look at defensive end Robert Quinn's big season and how he stacks up against the competition for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas provides an update on safety T.J. McDonald's efforts to return from a leg fracture.
Austin discusses his Special Teams Player of the Week award with Joe Lyons.
StLouisRams.com takes a look at the work done by quarterback Kellen Clemens in his three starts.
KMOV.com looks at the bye week and where the Rams go from here.
CBSSports.com declares Austin its rookie of the week.
NFL.com has its own ideas about the Defensive Player of the Year race.