Pead Patiently Waiting His Turn
No matter the time of the game nor the situations, Rams rookie running back Isaiah Pead knows enough about the NFL despite little experience to know that it’s imperative to make every opportunity count.
So when Pead got three carries in what is known as “garbage time” of the Rams’ loss to New England last week against a defense comprised mostly of backups, he had no intention to do anything but run like it was the Super Bowl.
“It’s always good to play football,” Pead said. “I was happy to get in although it was at the end of the game and the starters weren’t in and whatnot. But that’s neither here nor there. It was still a football game and it still mattered.”
It certainly appeared to matter plenty to Pead, whose snaps and touches have been few and far between in this, his rookie season. He tripled his carries for the season on those three attempts and picked up 32 yards on those attempts, including a nifty 19-yard gain.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher was encouraged by what he saw from Pead and said moving forward that the Rams will try to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
“We drafted Isaiah because of those run skills and he’s got them,” Fisher said. “But again, it’s hard to get everybody the carries, but we’ll try to keep him involved. We had him involved in a couple packages going into that game, so he got in the ball game.”
As a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Pead was expected to step in immediately as the complement and perhaps long term replacement for incumbent starter Steven Jackson.
But after an up and down preseason, Pead simply fell behind seventh-round choice Daryl Richardson, who wowed the coaching staff with his speed and decisive cuts.
It wasn’t so much a case of Pead struggling as it was Richardson earning the job. While Pead is competitive and would prefer to have more opportunities, he’s also working hard and biding his time until his number is called on a more regular basis.
“I think I am developing every day, being a better football player,” Pead said. “I try to stay accountable day in and day out and just waiting for my moment.”
Because he hasn’t been overly involved in the offense, Pead isn’t concerned much with hitting the so-called rookie wall and hopes his performance increases as the year goes on and he gets to work on relatively fresh legs.
“I love what I do,” Pead said. “In the offseason I get miserable. It gets tough, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t get tough but I love coming to work every day so I really don’t even get caught up in the rookie wall that is supposedly coming. I haven’t hit it. I don’t know if I will or how it will feel, I just have to come to work, get up early and come in and ready. I have to be ready when my name is called.”
For his part, Pead has a solid grasp on the offense and knows his responsibilities across the board. The next step for him, according to him, is to do the extra work required to earn more time and make him better.
“I think it’s just making the most of your off time,” Pead said. “We practice and then coach might give us a couple days off or we might have a night off, just making the most of that time and always being on top because your name can get called at any time.”
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: While Pead’s contributions are coming in smaller doses, the Rams have certainly not lacked for production from their rookie class.
As a foundation for the youngest team in the league, the Rams are getting significant contributions from defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Richardson and others.
“We are obviously getting contributions from them,” Fisher said. “Brock missed a few weeks with the ankle but is coming on. Quick is playing a little bit. We expect him to play a little bit more. Jenks has been productive for us and Daryl and Isaiah can do some things so things from that standpoint look good but as we move forward, we are going to expect more out of them. More practice reps and more production in the game.”
GETTING THEIR KICKS: Fisher was asked this week if there was anything that has surprised him the most in the first half of the season. With a number of options to choose from, Fisher pointed to the work done by kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker, a pair of rookies who have been revelations in their first year in the league.
Despite the occasional hiccups, perhaps no part of the team has produced more consistently at a high level than the special teams, a direct result of the work done by the rookie roommates.
“Well, I have to say probably the production out of the kicking game, in particular, both the punter and the kicker,” Fisher said. “They got off to a good start and they’ve been consistent. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunities the other night but they’ve been consistent.”
Fisher warned, though, that he’s by no means satisfied with just about any part of his team.
“We are nowhere close to where we need to be right now and we’re going to take advantage of this time,” Fisher said.
BYE TIMING: The Rams bye week falls at the exact midpoint of the season, allowing them to break the year into equal eight-game halves.
Not that Fisher would have minded had it come two weeks ago or two weeks from now but coming off the long trip to London and on the heels of a three-game losing streak, he’s perfectly pleased with its timing this year.
“I don’t think you’ll find a coach that is not happy with the timing of their bye, regardless of where they fall,” Fisher said. “This was a necessity because of the travel but yeah, you break the season down where the first half is over, we are going to go to the second half. We take the halftime approach, it’s halftime and we are trailing right now at halftime and we’ll make some adjustments.”