The Super Bowl ring that C.J. Anderson won with the Denver Broncos could not be flashed around the locker room this season while he played for the Carolina Panthers.
Anderson was the Broncos’ starting running back in Super Bowl 50, when they defeated the Panthers to end the 2015 season.
But Anderson is looking forward to possibly breaking out the bling for new Rams teammates to see — and imparting his Super Bowl experience.
“Tried to keep Super Bowl 50 out of my mouth around Carolina,” Anderson said Wednesday in the Rams’ Thousand Oaks locker room. “Around here? I should be good around here.”
With star running back Todd Gurley nursing a knee injury that might further deplete an already thin running back corps, the Rams signed Anderson on Tuesday to augment their rushing attack and beef up pass protection.
Gurley played through a left knee injury during the Rams’ 30-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Sean McVay said this week that Gurley was suffering from inflammation. The three-time Pro Bowl pick did not participate in walk-throughs on Wednesday, but McVay said Gurley was “making good progress” and the coach’s expectation was that Gurley would play Sunday at Arizona.
The NFC West champion Rams are 11-3 and can clinch a bye through the wild-card round if they defeat the 3-11 Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Chicago Bears.
Asked what the tipping point would be for deciding to hold out Gurley, McVay said it would be “predicated” on what Gurley and team physicians report.
“If there’s a chance that he’s going to do something that’s going to set him back for when you get into the playoffs … that’s where we have to make smart decisions,” McVay said. “We’re trying to go win this football game and do everything we can in our power to do that.”
“Not at the expense of potentially risking the availability of Todd,” he said.
The Rams are in need of a productive back-up for Gurley because Malcolm Brown suffered a season-ending clavicle injury on Dec. 2 at Detroit. Second-year pro Justin Davis is nursing a shoulder injury suffered against the Eagles, and rookie John Kelly has struggled in limited pass-protection opportunities.
Enter the 5-foot-8, 225-pound Anderson, a sixth-year pro who signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent after playing in college at California. Anderson rushed for 3,051 yards — including 1,007 yards in 2017 — before he was released in April.
He signed with the Panthers but got little opportunity in a backfield because of ascending star Christian McCaffrey. Anderson also was on the Oakland Raiders’ roster for a short time before he was released Dec. 11.
McVay described the 27-year-old Anderson as a “very sharp, very cerebral” player.
“You can see him playing a role as early as this week,” McVay said.
That would be fine with Anderson.
“I’ve been in this league long enough, and been around a bunch of offenses long enough, where it won’t take long to get acclimated,” he said.
Rams cornerback Aqib Talib played with Anderson in Denver. Like McVay, he said the running back was smart, and also accomplished in pass protection, having played alongside demanding future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
“He’s definitely on his Ps and Qs as far as pass protection,” Talib said of Anderson. “And he’s a tough tackle. A real tough tackle.
“I’ve seen him break a lot of tackles — especially at this time of the season.”
Anderson said his experience playing with Manning — “I did some good deeds keeping 18 on his feet.” — fostered pride in pass protection, and that he was looking forward to similarly aiding Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
“When you got one of those guys who can win the game at any point, the best thing you got to do is try to keep them healthy,” Anderson said. “So I’m just going to do my part when that part’s called.”
Goff recalled watching Anderson when the running back played at Cal, where Goff later played before the Rams selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.
He is happy to have him in the fold.
“You can tell he’s a veteran in how quickly he’s picking things up,” Goff said.
Anderson is thrilled to have joined a team that already has secured a playoff spot.
He was a reserve during the Broncos run to the Super Bowl in 2013, and a major contributor to their Super Bowl victory two seasons later.
Now he wants to use that experience to help the Rams.