Snead: Richardson still in Rams' plans

ST. LOUIS -- It's safe to say the 2013 season didn't turn out the way St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson envisioned.

After winning a "competition" for the starting running back job with little challenge from any of the other backs in training camp, Richardson entered the season as the player handed the challenge of replacing Steven Jackson, the team's all time leading rusher.

That was pretty much the high point of the season for Richardson, who suffered a toe injury in the season opener and never got rolling before ceding the job to rookie Zac Stacy after just four weeks. When all was said and done, Stacy stated a strong case to retain the starting job heading into 2014 and Richardson spent the final eight games of the season on the inactive list.

Richardson dealt with a hamstring injury toward the end of the season and it was fair to wonder if he ever fully recovered from his foot injury. Considering Stacy's emergence as well as the work of Benny Cunningham as his backup and the special teams production of Isaiah Pead and Chase Reynolds, it's fair to wonder about Richardson's future with the team.

Rams general manager Les Snead said last week he still envisions a place for Richardson on the roster next season.

"Oh yeah, I think definitely," Snead said. "We've all seen what he can do. Some injuries derailed him a little bit and then heck, let's take Isaiah: (he) gets a chance goes on special teams and he's one of the top special teamers. As you bring in more players, there's more competition."

It remains to be seen whether the Rams add to their stable of running back options in the offseason though it doesn't seem to be a particularly pressing need given the amount of guys already on the roster. Pead has been a major disappointment in his first two years after coming in as a second-round pick in 2012 but Stacy and Cunningham seem to be settled into their spots, something coach Jeff Fisher alluded to near the end of the season.

The Rams made something of a puzzling choice to go with five running backs all season though they regularly seemed to have at least one banged up at all times. Still, that decision cost them a promising young defensive end in Gerald Rivers when they had to adjust for the injury to returner/receiver Tavon Austin.

Theoretically, the Rams could again carry five running backs but they may have to make a choice between Richardson and Pead. Richardson finished the year with 215 yards on 69 carries, an anemic 3.12 yards per attempt.

Richardson is limited in terms of his ability to make defenders miss though he flashed good speed as a rookie. It's hard to say how much injuries slowed him in 2013 but it's clear there was at least some negative effect.

For Richardson to hang tight in his spot behind Stacy and Cunningham or even emerge back in the running back mix, he may have to follow the Pead route and prove he can contribute in other ways first.

"I do know this, when he was inactive he didn't like that," Snead said. "You do like the fact he didn't like that. He's always said hey I want to start covering kicks and doing things like that. He's trying to find his way back on the 46-man. We've all seen what he can do and you've definitely got to roll with him."