Rams make surprise cut as struggles continue in Los Angeles

 

The Los Angeles Rams waived their leading rusher, Darrell Henderson Jr., and linebacker Justin Hollins as the team continues to struggle after its Super Bowl victory.

Sean McVay’s crew has the worst record after 10 games of any defending Super Bowl champion, sitting at 3-7 after losing a fourth straight game. The Rams lost to the New Orleans Saints on the road Sunday.

Injuries have played a factor. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp could be out for the season with a high ankle sprain, and LA has been dealing with offensive line woes since the beginning of the season.

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Darrell Henderson of the Los Angeles Rams, holding ball, scores a rushing touchdown in the third quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium Nov. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Nonetheless, Henderson’s departure is a surprise considering he was the leading running back for McVay despite the run game, much like the entire offense, lacking.

Henderson had 283 yards with three touchdowns on 70 carries this season, averaging four yards per attempt. Not exactly glowing numbers, but Henderson was a key piece of the backfield during the 2021 Super Bowl campaign with 688 yards on 149 attempts with five scores in 12 games. He also had three receiving touchdowns and 176 yards through the air on 29 receptions.

But Henderson’s role has diminished in recent weeks. He carried the ball just twice in the loss to the Saints for nine yards.

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Cam Akers, who earlier in the season requested a trade after seeing very little playing time, has assumed his role as the lead back after he rushed 14 times for 61 yards to lead the Rams Sunday. Bryce Perkins (5 carries, 39 yards) and Kyren Williams (7 carries, 36 yards) also outgained Henderson.

Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams, right, hands the ball off to Darrell Henderson Jr. during the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome Nov. 20, 2022, in New Orleans.
(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Considering the Rams’ diminishing playoff hopes, McVay may be trying Williams and Perkins in lead roles to see who can produce if Akers isn’t productive moving forward.

Henderson spent his first four seasons in the league with the Rams after being selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Memphis. He rushed for a total 1,742 yards on 396 carries, a 4.4-yard average, with 13 rushing scores and four receiving touchdowns.

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The Rams weren’t the only team with surprising cuts this week. The Denver Broncos let Melvin Gordon III go after he fumbled yet again Sunday. He fumbled four times in the first four games this year.

Latavius Murray came on following Javonta Williams’ season-ending injury, and Denver made a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Chase Edmonds, who has been sidelined with an injury.

Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. rushes against the Cardinals in the second half at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Nov. 13, 2022. The Rams lost 27-17.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Henderson has the chance to land with a playoff contender that can use his bulldozing style of rushing.

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Los Angeles will turn the page on Henderson and Hollins and look ahead to their matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on the road Sunday.