LOS ANGELES -- It took four years toiling as an understudy for Todd Gurley before Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown got something close to equal billing and opportunity during important stretches of a game.
Brown signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2015, the same year the team selected Gurley with the 10th pick in the NFL draft.
As Gurley became one of the league's most dynamic and well-compensated players, Brown quietly built a career as a special-teams standout and capable backup. He was so valuable, the Rams in March matched an offer sheet he received from the Detroit Lions and signed him to a two-year contract.
In the 30-27 season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers, Brown showed he was worthy of the investment. He rushed for a career-best two touchdowns and, perhaps more importantly, proved he could produce in an expanded role as the Rams attempt to manage Gurley's workload.
Brown is expected to get more chances Sunday, when the Rams play the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum.
"Any opportunity I get," Brown said this week, "I just seize the moment."
While Gurley rushed for 97 yards in 14 carries against the Panthers, Brown rushed for 53 yards in 11. Gurley, the NFL touchdowns leader last season, looked on from the sideline as Brown scored twice in a game for the first time as a pro.
"He went in there and did his thing," Gurley told reporters after the game.
It was an impressive season debut for Brown, who had not played since last Dec. 2, when he suffered a broken collarbone in the Rams' road victory over the Lions.
"I was just very excited to get back and get out there because I haven't played in so long," Brown said. "A lot of people really haven't seen me play ... in the flow of an actual game like that."