St. Louis Rams running back Benny Cunningham (36) returns a kick against the Houston Texans during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams rule out Benny Cunningham


St. Louis Rams rookie RB and kick returner Benny Cunningham missed practice all week with an ankle injury, and his left foot is in  cast. Cunningham, the Rams No. 3 back, is out indefinitely with the ankle injury of unknown severity, and he has been ruled out for today’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Cunningham’s absence means that Isaiah Pead will be the Rams No. 3 back behind Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson, and it will be interesting to see if the second-year back out of Cincinnati also assumes kick return duties.

There is currently no indication as to who will be the Rams kickoff returner with Benny Cunningham out, and there are several options. The Rams could decide to use speedy rookie slot receiver Tavon Austin as the returner, No. 1 wideout Chris Givens, or Pead. Of the three players, Pead is the least important, therefore the Rams would be the least reluctant to use him as a returner in the case of injury. I highly doubt Givens returns kicks, and I would honestly make Austin the returner; I want to see what he can do in that role with his speed.

Cunningham has a hard cast on his ankle and could be out for a while, which is a shame since he has amassed 299 kickoff return yards this season. That more than makes up for the fact that he has just 46 rushing yards on 17 carries. He’s done an excellent job returning kicks this season, so let’s hope the injury doesn’t cause him to miss too much time.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter for more NFL updates and analysis @SorianoJoe. Be sure to like us on Facebook here and follow our site on Twitter as well.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Benny Cunningham Injury Report Isaiah Pead St. Louis Rams