Although Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay indicated that he would be relying on a committee in the backfield for the 2020 NFL season, Malcolm Brown emerged as the primary option to help secure a 20-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.
The Rams certainly had their work cut out hosting this revamped Cowboys team for their first game at SoFi Stadium. Fortunately, they wasted no time in making themselves at home with a seven-play, 75-play opening drive that was capped by Brown’s touchdown at the goal line.
The veteran went on to take full advantage of his increased workload by setting new career highs with 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns. While many may have been surprised by the outburst, it was all in a day’s work for Brown.
There was plenty of speculation regarding how the touches would be split between this crowded backfield that also included Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. Brown says his focus was on producing when he got the chance, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:
“We had a good gameplan going in,” Brown said. “If those guys call my number, I just got to be ready. That’s my mindset, that’s going to stay my mindset throughout the year.”
Brown added that he is glad to see that trueing the process has started to pay some dividends after spending his first five seasons as a backup on the depth chart:
“It’s very exciting. I feel like that’s just what I had to do,” Brown said. “Sometimes you gotta step into this league and play a role. I was very aware of it. My rookie year when I came in, I knew I wasn’t going to just be the man automatically. I was very, very, very aware of it. I just kept my head down and worked. I knew I may eventually get a shot, I may not, but at the same time, you just gotta keep going. That’s what I tell a lot of guys coming in – it may not be the circumstance you want, but you last long enough and do what you need to do throughout your years in this league, and something will spark. An opportunity came, and I was able to just do what I had to do.”
There is no question that Brown has come a long way since joining the Rams as an undrafted free agent back in 2015. While he eventually established himself as the de facto backup to running back Todd Gurley, the latter’s heavy workload put a cap on his production.
Regardless, Los Angeles made efforts to keep Brown by signing him to a two-year extension prior to the 2019 campaign. Despite managing to secure a surplus of talent with Henderson and Akers, it is evident that the 27-year-old has made his case as Gurley’s clear-cut successor to begin the season.
McVay may continue to experiment with touches in the coming weeks before establishing a firm pecking order. It will be interesting to see whether or not Brown is able to maintain his status as the primary option.