May 23, 2024

The Rams will have a new starter on offense and could have one on defense Sunday when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers at SoFi Stadium.

Rookie Zach Evans, Royce Freeman, Darrell Henderson or Myles Gaskin will start at running back in place of injured Kyren Williams.

And it remains to be seen whether the Rams will play cornerback Derion Kendrick, who faces two misdemeanor gun charges. Kendrick was held out of practice Wednesday — his arraignment was continued until Dec. 5 — and coach Sean McVay said Kendrick’s situation would be evaluated as his legal situation unfolds.

McVay said before practice he had not spoken with Kendrick, but had spoken with his attorney and Kendrick’s mother.

“Once I have the totality of the information and all the legal matters are cleared up, I think it will be appropriate for us to be able to move forward,” McVay said.

If Kendrick does not play, rookie Tre Tomlinson or Duke Shelley could replace him.

The Rams are 3-3 after a victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals but the win proved costly.

Williams suffered an ankle injury, Ronnie Rivers a knee injury.

Rivers was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, and McVay indicated that Williams, who rushed for a career-best 158 yards and a touchdown before he was injured, could be a candidate to go on injured reserve as well.

“There’s a possibility of that,” McVay said.

That leaves McVay with several options about whom to start and rotate against a Steelers team that is 3-2 and rested after a week off.

“We’ve got the week to be able to evaluate it,” McVay said. “I would say all four of those guys are possibilities.”

Evans made his debut against the Cardinals, rushing for 10 yards in four carries. The sixth-round draft pick from Mississippi had impressed coaches and teammates with his work on the scout team.

Evans said he would be ready if called up to start.

“Most definitely,” he said.

Evans cited lessons learned from being in the same position group with Williams, Rivers, Freeman and Cam Akers, who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings.

Rams running back Darrell Henderson rushes against the Cardinals in 2022.

Running back Darrell Henderson is glad to be back with the Rams.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s my preparation,” he said, adding, “just listening, taking notes and going out and pushing each other.”

Henderson is back with the Rams after being waived by the team last November. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly thereafter but was released after two weeks without appearing in a game.

Henderson, a 2019 third-round draft pick, was often injured during his three-plus seasons with the Rams. He rushed for 1,742 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in 50 games, including 28 starts.

McVay said his “familiarity” with Henderson played a role in the signing of a player McVay described as smart and conscientious.

“When he’s played, he’s been really productive,” McVay said, adding, “He’s never been afraid to stick his face on people in protection. He has an understanding, and a nuanced understanding of what we’re doing.”

Henderson is glad to be back.

“I see a lot of familiar faces and have a great relationship with all these dudes,” he said. “I’m just doing what they ask me to do.”

Gaskin, a fifth-year pro, played four seasons for the Miami Dolphins, and the Rams signed him off the Vikings practice squad. His best season was 2021 when he rushed for 612 yards and three touchdowns and caught four touchdown passes.

“Excited to be back on the West Coast and close to home,” said Gaskin who grew up in Washington and played at Washington. “So I feel like the stars aligned for me to get here.”

McVay said he received feedback about Gaskin from Rams assistant Jimmy Lake, who coached Gaskin in college, and from Vikings coaches Kevin O’Connell and Wes Phillips, who were former Rams assistants.

“There are some things that carryover,” Gaskin said of the Rams’ and Vikings’ systems. “It comes from the same tree, the same family of offense.”

Shelley made a big play breaking up a pass during the Rams’ defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks ago.

Tomlinson said he would be prepared if he starts or plays extensive snaps.

“Especially with the coaching staff I have — I know whenever my number is called I’ll be ready, for sure,” he said.

Cornerback Cobie Durant is confident that Shelley and Tomlinson can step in.

“They’ve been itching for a moment,” Durant said. “Especially Duke — he’s a vet in this league, and Tre’s a hungry rookie.

“If they get the opportunity, they’re going to take advantage.”

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