Rams' hidden treasure: Running back

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

Any team with Steven Jackson at running back should be set. But for the first time in too long, the Rams have promising young depth behind the only NFL running back riding a seven-year run of 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Second-round choice Isaiah Pead provides badly needed speed and energy in a change-of-pace back. Seventh-round choice Daryl Richardson also impressed during organized team activities and minicamp practices.

The Rams had their reasons for employing veterans Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood as Jackson's backups last season. Reliability and experience meant more during a lockout-shortened offseason, particularly with the Rams' expectations surging some after posting a 7-9 record in 2010. Even this offseason, re-signing Williams or making a run at free agent Cedric Benson might have invited favorable reviews on those players' reputations.

Youth will be served under first-year coach Jeff Fisher. It should almost always be served at running back, anyway. Pead and Richardson offer speed and shiftiness. They give the Rams something the team hasn't had in the backfield: variety and depth with upside.

My first inclination was to profile the Rams' wide receivers for this piece. We've gone over that ground. Running back was another position with the potential to exceed expectations, at least from a depth standpoint. Now, it's up to the players to prove it.