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The Sports Report: Sony Michel could be key running back in Rams’ next game

Sony Michel
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Gary Klein on the Rams: Running back Sony Michel made a big impact is his first extended playing time with the Rams, replacing injured Darrell Henderson in the fourth quarter and carrying the load during a game-winning drive against the Indianapolis Colts.

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So, Michel will have a larger role, possibly as the starter, when the Rams play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday that the rib injury suffered by Henderson during their 27-24 victory at Indianapolis involved a cartilage issue. The team will monitor Henderson throughout the week and determine his status Friday, McVay said.

“If the pain subsides, then we will be confident in being able to utilize him,” McVay said. “Does that mean he starts and plays [a similar] amount of reps?”

Last season, running back Cam Akers suffered a rib injury in the second game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was sidelined for two games, opening the door for Henderson to make the first of 11 starts before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury for the second consecutive season.

Michel, 26, played only three snaps and carried once in the Rams’ season-opening victory over the Chicago Bears. He said last week that he was fine with his role, that he supported Henderson and that he would be ready when called upon.

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Entering Monday night, only four teams had gained more yards than the Chargers had through the first two weeks of the season.

And yet, they were 25th in points scored, an offense led by the giant right arm of Justin Herbert producing only three touchdowns.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on offense who have played a lot of football in the NFL,” coach Brandon Staley said. “But they haven’t played together.”

The Chargers are operating a new scheme under a new coaching staff and coming off a preseason in which many of their starters didn’t play for the sake of safety.

They’ve been excellent advancing the football but not so great as they get closer to the end zone. Seven of the Chargers’ 10 red-zone trips have failed to result in touchdowns. That 30% success rate ranks 30th out of 32 teams in the NFL.

“I think that’s coming together as an offense,” Staley explained, “and really understanding all the details of every play and the continuity that it takes, the chemistry that it takes to truly score the ball like we’re capable of.”

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NFL roundtable: Will Chargers ever be accepted in L.A.?

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Max Scherzer arrived in Los Angeles at the end of July, along with fellow All-Star Trea Turner, as Trevor Bauer’s replacement in the Dodgers’ rotation. Bauer had been placed on paid leave at the start of the month after being accused of sexual assault. The Dodgers didn’t expect Bauer to return this season, and, as of last week, he won’t.

With Clayton Kershaw on the injured list at the time, Scherzer gave the Dodgers another front-line starter for the stretch run and October. He has exceeded all expectations.

The right-hander has posted a 0.78 earned-run average in nine starts with the Dodgers. He has amassed 79 strikeouts to seven walks over 58 innings. He hasn’t given up an earned run in 37 innings since Aug. 21, six starts ago. He has catapulted to the top of the National League Cy Young race, putting him in line to become the fifth pitcher to win the Cy Young Award at least four times. The Dodgers are unbeaten in his starts.

“This clubhouse has been great,” Scherzer said. “Great group of guys. Great clubhouse chemistry. So this is more a product of their clubhouse and what they’ve built that’s made it as easy as pie for me to come in here.”

Scherzer has seamlessly blended into a clubhouse with All-Stars at every corner and at least two other future Hall of Famers. He has talked shop with Clayton Kershaw, his competition for best pitcher of his generation, and Albert Pujols, who broke into the majors with the Cardinals when Scherzer was in high school in St. Louis. The Dodgers adore his accountability and work ethic. Scherzer treasures their commitment to winning.

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Manager Joe Maddon said Monday that outfielder Justin Upton is unlikely to return before the end of the season. Upton has been on the injured list since Sept. 5 because of a right lumbar strain in his back.

“He’s up there [in the clubhouse] working out, but I don’t anticipate him back,” Maddon said.

If Upton is indeed finished, it will mark the end of a difficult 2021 season for the 34-year-old, who Maddon said was hampered by back issues during the second half of the campaign.

Upton batted just .211 in 89 games with 17 home runs, 41 RBIs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .705. It marked the third consecutive season that the four-time All-Star had a batting average of .215 or worse and an OPS below .725.

USC FOOTBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: USC’s unexpected quarterback competition may have to wait.

After hobbling through his dynamic debut Saturday following a shot to the knee, freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart is still dealing with soreness and will be “day-to-day” this week, USC interim Donte Williams revealed Monday night on USC’s Trojans Live radio show.

Williams said Sunday that there would be a competition this week between Dart and junior Kedon Slovis to see who would lead the offense on Saturday against Oregon State. But on Monday night, he explained that USC plans to “hold [Dart] out a little bit for precautionary reasons”.

“We’re going to save Jaxson from himself a little bit,” Williams said, adding that the quarterback competition would still continue this week.

UCLA FOOTBALL

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Bruins: A City of Pasadena spokeswoman said a vaccination requirement for mega events, including UCLA football games at the Rose Bowl, would more than likely start after Oct. 9, meaning that if implemented, it would go into effect for the Bruins’ game against Oregon on Oct. 23.

Dr. Ying Ying Goh, a Pasadena health officer, is scheduled to provide a COVID-19 update to the city council on Sept. 27 that is expected to include a recommendation to require proof of vaccination at mega events, according to city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.

UCLA announced last weekend that it would require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours of the start of all indoor athletic events for all fans ages 3 and older through at least Nov. 1.

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Chip Kelly concedes UCLA secondary should have tightened coverage during loss

LAKERS

Bill Shaikin on the Lakers: The Lakers unveiled a new sponsor for their jersey patches Monday: Bibigo, a South Korean line of dumplings, sauces and frozen meals.

The five-year agreement is worth more than $100 million, according to people familiar with the deal but not authorized to disclose its terms publicly. NBA jersey patch deals have sold for an average range of $7 million to $10 million per year, according to The Athletic.

“The Lakers are the No. 1 team in sports,” said Wookho Kyeong, chief marketing officer of CJ CheilJedang, the parent company of Bibigo. “The Lakers are more than just a basketball team. The Lakers, globally, are a cultural icon, especially for young people.”

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1940 — For the first time in the history of photo finishes a triple dead heat for first place is recorded, at Willow’s Park, Victoria, British Columbia.

1955 — Rocky Marciano knocks out Archie Moore in the ninth round at Yankee Stadium in New York to retain the world heavyweight title.

1980 — Richard Todd of the New York Jets completes an NFL record 42 passes and throws for 447 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-27 loss to San Francisco.

1985 — Michael Spinks wins a 15-round unanimous decision over Larry Holmes in Las Vegas to win the world heavyweight title.

1985 — Montana State’s David Pandt catches 21 passes for 169 yards against Eastern Washington to set an NCAA record.

1986 — Ken O’Brien’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Wesley Walker at 2:35 in overtime ends one of the highest scoring games in NFL history as the New York Jets defeat the Miami Dolphins 51-45. O’Brien passes for 479 yards and four touchdowns, all to Walker. Miami’s Dan Marino passes for 448 yards and three touchdowns as both quarterbacks set a record with 884 combined yards passing.

1994 — The North Carolina women’s soccer team wins its 89th straight game, setting the unofficial record for the longest winning streak in college sports. The 5-1 victory over rival N.C. State broke the mark of 88 in a row set by the UCLA men’s basketball team during the early 1970s.

1997 — The Buffalo Bills stage the third-biggest comeback in NFL history, overcoming a 26-0 deficit to beat the Indianapolis Colts 37-35. The Bills made the greatest comeback in the 1992 AFC playoffs, wiping out a 35-3 deficit to beat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime.

2003 — Sam Hornish Jr. wins the fastest open-wheel race in history at California Speedway. Hornish’s Chevrolet-powered Dallara averages 207.151 mph in the Toyota Indy 400 — breaking the previous closed course race record of 197.995, set here last year by Jimmy Vasser in a CART Champ Car event.

2008 — The United States take back the Ryder Cup with a 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory over Europe. It’s the largest margin of victory for the Americans since 1981.

2008 — Baseball says farewell to Yankee Stadium, the home of baseball’s most famous team.

2008 — Miami wins for just the second time in 22 games, ending New England’s NFL record 21 straight regular-season wins with a 38-13 win over the Patriots. Ronnie Brown scores a Miami-record four rushing touchdowns and passes for another. The 25-point loss is New England’s biggest in seven seasons at Gillette Stadium.

2014 — Tom Brady passes for 234 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 16-9 win over Oakland. The win is Brady’s 150th career victory as a starting quarterback, joining Brett Favre (186) and Peyton Manning (169) as the only quarterbacks to accomplish the feat.

2018 — English golfer Oliver Fisher shoots the first round of 59 in the 46-year history of the European Tour. Fisher makes an eagle and 10 birdies on a par-71 course in the second round of the Portugal Masters held at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Michael Spinks defeats Larry Holmes. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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