Sony Michel ran for 449 yards and one touchdown in nine games last season. AP Photo/Steven Senne

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Los Angeles Rams are getting some much-needed help in the backfield from a running back who starred against them in the Super Bowl.

The Rams acquired Sony Michel from the New England Patriots on Wednesday for a conditional late-round picks in next season’s draft. Michel, a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2018, could play a significant role immediately for a Rams offense running low on healthy options at running back with the regular season fast approaching.

“We identified Sony for many reasons, No. 1 being his experience,” Rams General Manager Les Snead said. “Meaning a player who’s carried the ball in big games, in big moments, big drives, big series. The experience of where he played, how he was coached. If we were going to go the route of experience, he was someone that we were definitely eyeing from the start.”

The Rams had an up-close view of Michel’s most important game of all: He rushed for 94 yards and scored the only touchdown as a rookie in New England’s 13-3 victory over Los Angeles in the Super Bowl in February 2019.

“When we were preparing for Sony even then, you felt him, even on film,” Snead said. “There’s the cut. He’s getting north and south. A linebacker is meeting him, and he’s getting 2 more yards after the linebacker meets him. That’s Sony.”

The Rams already lost two of their top three running backs from last season because of Cam Akers’ season-ending Achilles tendon injury and Malcolm Brown’s departure for Miami. When Darrell Henderson left practice Monday because of a sprained thumb, the Rams quickly made a move to bolster the depth of Coach Sean McVay’s offense, which didn’t have a healthy running back who had ever carried the ball in an NFL game.

Michel entered the preseason at a pivotal point of his injury-plagued career. The Patriots declined to pick up his fifth-year option in May, clearing the way from him to become a free agent after this season.

During his rookie campaign, Michel fought through the lingering effects of the left knee injury he suffered as a senior at Georgia. He appeared in 13 games and rushed for 931 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. But Michel had an excellent postseason as a rookie, rushing for 336 yards and scoring six touchdowns in New England’s three playoff games. Only Denver Broncos Hall of Famer Terrell Davis ever rushed for more TDs in a single postseason.

Michel appeared in 16 games in 2019, but his production declined. He ran for 912 yards and seven TDs, with his yards-per-carry average falling to 3.7. That average rose to 5.7 last season before a quadriceps injury sidelined him for six games. The 26-year-old also spent a week on the COVID-19 list.

His contract status left him entering training camp fighting for a roster spot.

Damien Harris was productive in 2020 for New England, his second season, and is expected to be the starter. The Patriots drafted former Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round in April, and he joined a depth chart that also includes veteran James White, Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor.

Stevenson had impressive performances during the first two exhibition games, running for four touchdowns, including a 91-yard score.

White said it’s tough to see Michel depart, but said Stevenson’s hunger has stood out. Not bad for a guy who failed his initial conditioning test after being drafted out of Oklahoma.

“He’s gotten better and better as you can see during preseason games. He’s having big run after big run, big play after big play, but he’s continuing to learn more and more,” White said. “Not just about running the football, but the pass protection, catching the ball, all that good stuff. … I am sure his number will get called on a little bit more.”

JOINT PRACTICE: The Patriots and Giants scheduled a 1-on-1 pass rush drill within the first hour of Wednesday’s joint practice. It didn’t take long for an interruption.

Shortly after a rep between Patriots guard Michael Onwenu and Giants lineman Dexter Lawrence, a scrum broke out between the two teams. Once it dissipated a half-minute later, Patriots offensive linemen Isaiah Wynn and Korey Cunningham were pulled out from on the bottom of the pile. Wynn later left practice.

“I just saw a pile of bodies,” said Patriots running back James White. “I wasn’t really sure what was going on, but definitely got to control your tempers, for sure. But, definitely got to protect your teammates, as well.”

Patriots center David Andrews, meanwhile, didn’t see a thing, he said.

“I don’t remember,” Andrews said with a straight face. “I think we were just talking, so it is what it is.”

Asked what the discussion was about, Andrews deadpanned: “Baseball.”

The dust-up prompted Patriots offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo to send the offensive line on a lap. The Giants followed suit.

QB COMPETITION: Cam Newton is eligible to return to practice Thursday after sitting out a mandatory five-day waiting period for unvaccinated players after attending an out-of-town doctor’s appointment over the weekend. Newton tested positive during last season for COVID-19.

For the second straight day, Mac Jones took all the reps with the projected first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills. And after an inconsistent day Tuesday, he logged probably his best performance during camp.

He completed 22 of 25 throws during 11-on-11 situations, threading balls to receivers multiple times. One of his best of the day was to White, when he pinpointed an over-the-shoulder pass to him on the sideline.

“He’s working extremely hard,” White said. “He’s getting a lot of reps now. He’s taking control of the huddle and just trying to do the best he can, just making sure everybody is on the same page so we can go out there and execute not just for one period, but throughout the entire practice.”


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