Thomas Brown has Rams running in the right direction with several backs

Malcolm Brown carries the football during downtime when the Rams held their first scrimmage at SoFi Stadium.
Rams running back Malcolm Brown carries the football during downtime when the Rams held their first scrimmage at SoFi Stadium.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Throughout their high school football careers in Georgia, Rams coach Sean McVay and running backs coach Thomas Brown were on opposite sidelines.

McVay played quarterback for Marist School, Brown running back for Tucker High.

“I won two,” Brown said Friday. “He won two.”

McVay went on to play in college at Miami Ohio and then began his NFL coaching career as a low-level assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brown played in college at Georgia and had stints in the NFL before coaching for nine years at Tennessee-Chattanooga, Marshall, Wisconsin, Georgia, Miami and South Carolina.

After last season’s 9-7 finish, McVay did not retain running backs coach Skip Peete, a member of his staff since his first season in 2017. He hired Brown to handle what is now the post-Todd Gurley era.


“Excited to work with the group I have to work with,” Brown said during a videoconference with reporters, “and just trying to make those guys better every day.”

Rams team leaders, including Robert Woods and Jared Goff, are working with teammates to come up with a plan to address racial inequality.

Aug. 27, 2020

Gurley, a three-time Pro Bowl player who signed a $60-million extension in 2018, was released in March. That move, along with a trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans, was made to clear salary-cap space for the extension star cornerback Jalen Ramsey is expected to receive.

That left the Rams with veteran Malcolm Brown, second-year pro Darrell Henderson and third-year pro John Kelly, who spent much of the 2019 season on the practice squad. In April, the Rams selected running back Cam Akers in the second round of the draft. They also signed Xavier Jones as an undrafted free agent.

McVay said he has been impressed with Brown’s work with the group.

“He’s just got a presence, you know?” McVay said. “There are certain people that kind of have that ‘it’ factor and he’s certainly one of those guys.”

 Rams running back Cam Akers, left, works on a drill as running back coach Thomas Brown watches.
Rams running back Cam Akers, left, works on a drill as running back coach Thomas Brown watches.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated press)

Malcolm Brown, no relation to Thomas Brown, also has been impressed.

“He’s a guy who’s brought some intensity,” Malcolm Brown said, “and he knows his stuff.”

During his years as a college coach, Thomas Brown tutored running backs such as Melvin Gordon, Sony Michel and others who went on to play in the NFL.

He quickly has adjusted to dealing with pro athletes.

“The urgency is different between a college guy and a pro guy just because this is, obviously, a business,” Thomas Brown said, “so it’s not guaranteed to you.”

He is in line for a historic contract extension, but Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is not waiting to make significant charitable contributions.

Aug. 26, 2020

The Rams are preparing for their Sept. 13 opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Thomas Brown described Malcolm Brown as “Mr. Reliable,” because of his experience and knowledge. The talented Akers is learning quickly. Henderson is working through a hamstring injury, which has afforded Kelly and Jones more reps.

Thomas Brown said that while there is a preference to have “a clear-cut guy” to take the majority of snaps, backs can play various roles.

So the competition continues, he said.


The Rams began a mock-game routine Friday that will conclude with Saturday’s scrimmage at SoFi Stadium. The Rams practiced at the stadium last Saturday. “Totally helps,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I think little things, like where’s the clock, where’s the play clock, where on the banner is the score ... where you want to look on the scoreboard, little things like that that you would never think of until you are actually at the field. “ … The Rams will wear their bone-colored uniforms for the opener against the Cowboys, the team announced.