Rams running game felt Johnny Mundt’s absence vs. Lions

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The Rams had their worst rushing output of the season on Sunday against the Lions, gaining just 47 yards on the ground. Darrell Henderson Jr. accounted for 45 yards himself, while Sony Michel gained 4 yards on his two carries and Matthew Stafford’s two kneel downs lost 2 yards.

It may not be a coincidence that Sunday was also the first game of the season that Johnny Mundt missed due to his torn ACL. He’s taken on the role of the Rams’ No. 2 tight end, replacing Gerald Everett and complementing the skill set of Tyler Higbee.

Mundt may not have been a huge part of the Rams’ impressive passing attack, but he was blocking well on the edge – especially in the running game.

According to Pro Football Focus, Mundt had a run-blocking grade of 71.0, 10th-best in the NFL among qualifying tight ends. Whether he was sealing off the edge against a linebacker or crashing down on a defensive lineman to open up a hole for Henderson, Mundt was effective in his role.

And against the Lions on Sunday, the Rams steered clear of two-tight end groupings. Higbee played every snap, but Kendall Blanton was the only other tight end to get on the field, playing two snaps.

According to Sosa Kremenjas of PFF, the Rams averaged 2.5 yards per carry on those two plays in 12 personnel compared to 3.8 yards per carry in the first six weeks with Mundt. Their 12 personnel usage also went way down, dropping from 17.3% to 3.3% when running the ball.

It’s very clear that Sean McVay doesn’t have confidence in Jacob Harris and Brycen Hopkins to replace Mundt as the No. 2 tight end. Harris didn’t play an offensive snap and Hopkins hasn’t been active for a single game all year.

The trade deadline is approaching and McVay wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of the Rams making a move after trading away Kenny Young. Might there be a blocking tight end on their radar?

It’s something to watch with a week to go until the deadline.

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