His first NFL 100-yard rushing performance came with a physical toll, but Rams running back Darrell Henderson did not seem to mind.
Asked how his body felt Monday morning after 21 touches against the Buffalo Bills the previous day, Henderson grinned.
“Whew, couldn’t even get out of the bed this morning,” he said, his smile growing during a videoconference call with reporters. “Rolled over like three times.”
With rookie Cam Akers sidelined because of a rib injury, Henderson made the most of his first NFL start, and he is in line to start again Sunday against the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium, coach Sean McVay said.
“You felt him all day, and he can contribute in a variety of ways,” McVay said. “The more that he plays and the more that he’s available, the better he’s going to get.”
Henderson rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries and also caught a pass in the Rams’ 35-32 loss to the Bills.
The Rams overcame a 25-point deficit to take the lead on Henderson’s fourth-quarter, one-yard touchdown run before the Bills scored a touchdown in the final minute.
“I’m not really big on stats, so I was just going out there and I was doing what I was supposed to,” Henderson said. “After the game I found out that I had over 100, but I was still upset about the game. I wanted the win.”
It was the second consecutive productive performance by Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 2019 who received limited opportunities as a rookie and suffered a late-season ankle injury that required surgery. Henderson recovered but was slowed during training camp because of a hamstring injury.
In the season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys, veteran Malcolm Brown and Akers received most of the carries. Henderson carried three times for six yards.
The next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Akers was injured in the first quarter and Brown suffered a left pinkie injury later in the game. Henderson rushed for 81 yards in 12 carries and caught two passes for 40 yards.
On Sunday, Henderson carried the load against the Bills.
“He did a phenomenal job,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. “You know him and [the] O-line, they really showed up … running the ball when we really needed it.
“Some of the cuts that Darrell made, it just showed why we picked him up, why we drafted this guy.”
Henderson’s 21 touches were the most since his final season in college at Memphis in 2018. In a late November game against Houston, Henderson had 24 carries for 178 yards, caught two passes and returned a kickoff. A month earlier, he carried 31 times for 199 yards, caught two passes and returned a kickoff against Central Florida.
He was not tiring Sunday.
“I was in the groove,” he said, “so it’s really like fatigue is really a mindset.”
Henderson credited the Rams’ line and the entire offense for his recent performances.
“It starts up front,” he said. “Those other 10 guys do their job, so I had to do my job too.”
Henderson said he needs to improve his performance when he gets past the line of scrimmage to “make at least one guy miss” when he has the opportunity. But the game has slowed for him and he is getting more comfortable.
“I’m starting to get a feel for it,” he said. “The more opportunities I get, the better I’m going to be.”
Henderson’s goal is to continue to do well for the Rams — and for the friends and family watching from his hometown of Batesville, Miss.
“Everybody’s supporting me, so it’s just I’m playing this game for them and also myself,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure that I’m leading the community and kids in the right direction so if they see me doing a good job, they [are] going to try to follow my footsteps. So that’s why I try to go out there and do it every week.”
Safety Jordan Fuller (shoulder) probably will not practice when the Rams begin preparations for the Giants on Wednesday, but McVay said he did not anticipate the rookie would be sidelined Sunday. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds (ankle) and defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (ankle) also might rest Wednesday but are expected to play, McVay said. Akers’ status was uncertain, McVay said. ... McVay said he was not going to dwell on the pass-interference call against cornerback Darious Williams that gave the Bills another chance to win Sunday’s game, but did he think it was pass interference? “That’s not for me to make those decisions,” McVay said. “It’s not my place. I mean clearly that was a play that didn’t go in our favor, but I’m not going to comment on how I saw that.”… The Rams are off Tuesday.