Rams vs. Washington matchups: L.A. expected to get running back reinforcement

Rams running back Cam Akers carries the ball against the Cowboys on Sept. 13, 2020.
Rams running back Cam Akers, pictured carrying the ball against the Cowboys on Sept. 13, is expected to return Sunday from a rib injury.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Rams (3-1) and Washington (1-3) match up heading into their game at 10 a.m. Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

When Rams have the ball: With rookie Cam Akers expected to return from a rib injury suffered in Week 2, the Rams will have backs Akers, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson available. Henderson, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, started against the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. Jared Goff is the NFL’s eighth-rated passer. He has passed for six touchdowns, with two interceptions. In last Sunday’s win over the Giants, the Rams went to a faster-paced tempo in the fourth quarter and Goff connected with Cooper Kupp for a 55-yard, catch-and-run TD. Kupp and wide receiver Robert Woods remain Goff’s top targets, and tight end Gerald Everett has begun to get more opportunities to complement Tyler Higbee. The offensive line has continued to perform fairly well in the running game and has kept Goff out of harm’s way. Washington features one of the NFL’s best young defensive fronts. Rookie Chase Young, the second pick in last April’s draft, has 2½ of the team’s 14 sacks. Young did not play in last Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens because of a groin injury, but he practiced Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable. Edge rusher Montez Sweat, a first-round pick in 2019, has two sacks.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is fined $15,625 by the NFL for his role in a postgame altercation with New York Giants receiver Golden Tate last week.


When Washington has the ball: Washington coach Ron Rivera benched second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins last week and replaced him with Kyle Allen. Rivera also elevated veteran Alex Smith to a backup role. Allen, a third-year pro, played under Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner for the Carolina Panthers and started 12 games last season after Cam Newton suffered a season-ending foot injury. In 15 NFL games, he has passed for 19 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown, and caught four passes for 82 yards against the Ravens. Running back J.D. McKissic caught seven passes, and wide receiver Terry McLaurin had 10 receptions for 118 yards. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald has 3½ sacks, and Michael Brockers, Leonard Floyd and Morgan Fox each have two for a defense that got another timely interception from cornerback Darious Williams last week. Linebacker Micah Kiser is questionable because of groin and chest injuries. If he does not play, Troy Reeder would start in his place. Rookie safety Jordan Fuller, who sat out against the Giants because of a shoulder injury, will return to the lineup. Cornerback Troy Hill (ankle) was limited in practice but is expected to play Sunday.

Rams safeties John Johnson and Jordan Fuller are looking forward to playing on the field that their idol, Sean Taylor, once patrolled with Washington.

When they kick: Rookie Raymond Calais, signed by the Rams after he was cut by Tampa Bay, returned a kickoff 41 yards vs. the Giants. Samuel Sloman has made five of seven field-goal attempts. Johnny Hekker is averaging 51.8 yards per punt. Washington’s Dustin Hopkins has made four of six field-goal attempts. Tress Way averages 47.1 yards per punt.

Gary Klein’s prediction: The Rams, already seasoned cross-country travelers, shouldn’t have a problem as coach Sean McVay returns to where he spent seven seasons as an assistant.