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Thread: Pead keeps plugging away ..
Pead keeps plugging away ..
2 hours ago • By Dan O’Neill
Say what you want about Isaiah Pead, he has more rushing yards this season than Steven Jackson.
In England, anyway.
A statistical anomaly, yes. Pead had 32 yards on three carries during the Rams’ lopsided loss to New England in London. Jackson had 23 yards on seven carries. And if it wasn’t for Daryl Richardson’s 53 yards, Pead would be the Rams’ leading rusher abroad.
So he’s got that going for him ... which is nice.
But it’s more than that, more than a cute technicality or a meaningless cameo. A No. 2 draft pick, Pead came to town billed as the “change-of’-pace” alternative to Jackson. He has stood by and watched the unheralded Richardson take the job instead.
In that context, the late show in London was especially significant, and it was not lost on coach Jeff Fisher.
“That was good,” Fisher said. “And we’re going to continue to get him some touches, that makes sense. You’re playing in an NFL game and you’re playing against NFL players. And for him to flash like that, regardless of the situation or the status of the game, I thought it was pretty impressive.”
Equally impressive is Pead’s attitude. This has not been easy, and wouldn’t be for anyone with his credentials. The Rams didn’t roll the dice when they made Pead the 50th selection in the draft.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound tailback had 3,288 college rushing yards and 27 touchdowns at Cincinnati. He was the MVP of the Senior Bowl, playing among highly regarded peers.
But it hasn’t been a smooth transition. An NFL rule restricts college seniors from participating in offseason programs with their professional teams until their classes graduate. The only exception is rookie minicamp.
Pead was done academically at Cincinnati, but he had to stay away. When he arrived in camp, he essentially was starting from scratch. But Pead doesn’t discuss the rule as an alibi, only as a challenge.
“At the point, it hurt me a bit,” Pead, 22, said. “Not now, because we went over everything in training camp that we went over in minicamp. But I think the rule is frustrating because I had to wait for everyone in my class to graduate. It was difficult, but I stayed strong in my mind and I was ready to get after it when I got out here.”
As camp progressed, Richardson – the 252nd player drafted — was more effectual. The touches for Pead dwindled, evaporating altogether once the real games began. Until London, Pead had one carry from scrimmage for 1 yard. Critics began using the “B” word, the one that rhymes with trust.
Two of the three backs drafted ahead of Pead — Doug Martin and Trent Richardson — are having terrific rookie seasons.
The third, David Wilson, was taken 32nd overall by the Giants. He fumbled into Tom Coughlin’s doghouse early and is trying to dig out. Wilson has 17 carries, for 88 yards.
Meanwhile, Pead also uses the “B” word — as in “bust” your hump. He never has let the situation diminish his enthusiasm, which was boosted in London.
“It’s always good to get in a game and play, whether it’s the beginning or the end,” Pead said. “I was definitely excited and wanted to capitalize on my opportunity.”
Achievements don’t always come quickly, in life or football. Some St. Louis fans might remember the curious case of Lyvonia Albert Mitchell. In his rookie season (1981) with the football Cardinals, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound back carried 31 times for 175 yards. In 1982, he collected only 183 yards.
By his fifth season, “Stump” Mitchell had 1,006 yards rushing and led the NFL with an average of 5.5 yards a carry. You might be discouraged by Pead’s start; he’s just determined.
“You have your typical rookie days when it can be challenging, physically and mentally,” Pead said. “But that’s the life of a football player and I wouldn’t rather be anything else. So when I do feel that type of challenge, I step up to it.”
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