The role is different but the preparation is the same for C.J. Anderson.
A few weeks ago, the Rams signed the sixth-year running back to fill in for Todd Gurley while their star recovered from a left knee injury. Anderson rushed for 299 yards and two touchdowns in victories over Arizona and San Francisco.
Gurley is expected to return to the lineup Saturday against Dallas in the Rams’ playoff opener at the Coliseum. But Anderson said he would be ready when called upon.
“Todd’s not going to play 1,000% of the snaps,” Anderson said.
This week was the first time Anderson and Gurley practiced together. Anderson, who played on two Denver teams that made the Super Bowl, said he and Gurley helped each other.
“It was good to go through the week and see how he practices, working hard, finishing runs, things of that nature,” Anderson said. “He asked me a lot of questions because I’ve been in this position.
“So those are good things that let me know that he’s ready to go. And I’ve got his back whenever he needs it.”
Several Rams players have Texas roots and grew up watching the Cowboys, including defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who lived in Houston and was a Cowboys fan.
“No [Houston] Oilers, so all they showed was Dallas games all the time,” he said. “So, you know, I watched Emmitt Smith and all those guys wreck the ’90s.”
Rookie linebacker Justin Lawler played at Pottsboro (Texas) High and in college at Southern Methodist.
“It’s definitely wild,” he said of playing against the Cowboys. “My family, everybody back home, is making it a bigger deal than it really is, but everyone’s excited and it’s going to be fun, especially if we get the outcome we want.”
Kick returner JoJo Natson hails from Florida but “my whole family is Cowboys fans,” he said, adding that his grandfather was “the biggest Cowboys fan ever.”
That’s fine with Natson.
“I know I got my mom and dad behind me,” he said. “Everybody else, I don’t really care. As long as my parents are Rams fans this weekend, I’m good.”
Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry is the son-in-law of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, so their weekly chats were put on hold.
That’s been the unspoken arrangement whenever they have coached against each other during Barry’s stints with the Chargers, Washington Redskins and Rams.
Barry and Marinelli worked together on staffs at USC and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barry was defensive coordinator for Marinelli’s Detroit Lions staff for two seasons.
Barry said the head-to-head matchups between the coaches are hard on his wife, Chris, and his mother-in-law, Barbara. But not on him and Marinelli.
“We had an incredible working relationship, and then away from work we have an incredible family bond,” Barry said. “So it’s pretty special.”
Rain was forecast for Los Angeles on Friday night but it is expected to clear for Saturday’s game.