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Henderson is in the thick of things for Rams

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

HONOLULU -- For a team that gave its star running back a massive contract extension before last season, and in March matched an offer sheet to re-sign his backup, the Los Angeles Rams made another relatively significant investment in April when they selected running back Darrell Henderson in the third round of the NFL draft.

Henderson boasted the credentials -- he finished second nationally in rushing yards playing at Memphis -- and the Rams had a need.

Todd Gurley, who had received a guaranteed $45 million, finished the season on a down note, a left-knee issue sidelining him for two regular-season games and slowing him for most of the playoffs. That made re-signing Malcolm Brown for a guaranteed $2.1 million a top priority.

The Rams, without a first-round pick in the draft, used their second pick to select Henderson, ostensibly as a change-of-pace back but also as an insurance policy should Gurley break down.

After getting acclimated to NFL speed in a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, Henderson anticipated a larger role Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys and throughout the preseason.

"They want to see what I'm capable of doing," he said last week.

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Henderson started Saturday and was utilized as a runner and receiver in the Rams' 14-10 defeat in front of 49,936 at Aloha Stadium.

Henderson started fast, catching a third-down pass on the right side and turning it into a 26-yard gain during the first series. He played three series in the first quarter, and was in for a few situational plays in the second before returning for a two-minute drive at the end of the half.

He finished the half with 12 touches, rushing for 16 yards in six carries and catching six passes for 38 yards.

Coach Sean McVay is not playing starters or key rotational players during the preseason to ensure that they are physically sound for the Sept. 8 opener against the Carolina Panthers.

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