Although he started his rookie season on the bench, Tre Mason came alive when given an opportunity. The St. Louis Rams running back rushed 179 times for 765 yards – 4.3 yards per carry – and four touchdowns in 12 games last season. He also caught 16 balls for 148 yards and a score.
Not bad at all.
But waiting until mid-October to make his NFL debut? Yeah, that was rough.
“It was difficult at first,” Mason said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When I first came to the NFL, I didn’t play the first five weeks. I was nervous and wondering why am I not playing? What’s going on? But I was always told by veterans and guys that are older than me, ‘Control what you can control. When you’re number’s called on, be ready.’”
This year, however, the Auburn product will have to fight off first-round pick Todd Gurley – not to mention Benny Cunningham and Trey Watts, among others – for carries.
Mason isn’t worried.
“Competition is good,” he said. “I like competition. It only brings out the best in an individual. Competition is going to be good, and it’s going to make the team better, so we’re looking forward to it.”
They’re also looking forward to playing with Nick Foles, who was acquired in the Sam Bradford trade.
“I like Nick back there,” Mason said. “He’s a guy that’s comfortable when he’s back there. He keeps his poise and his calm in the pocket and he comes with a lot of leadership. I also like that. To be back there in the backfield, we got to get things going back there. To have a guy that’s willing to step in there and call shots makes my job a lot easier.”
While the defense is stacked and the skill positions are improving, the Rams’ biggest question mark might be its offensive line. It’s young, inexperienced and will have to learn on the fly this season.
Mason isn’t too concerned about that, either.
“I’ve experienced it before in school,” he said, “having guys that come in young and have to play right away. You just have to stick with them and know that there’s going to be times when you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. You’re going to learn throughout the (process). So just don’t let it happen twice. Try not to make every mistake twice. Learn from your mistakes and get better each and every day.”
Mason has been especially impressed with former Louisville offensive guard Jamon Brown, who was taken 72nd overall in this year’s draft.
“He’s a dog down there,” Mason said. “He’s young, but I know he’s coming along and learning. If he messes up, he’s messing up at 110 percent.”
While the Rams have been perpetually injured under center in recent years, head coach Jeff Fisher enters 2015 on the hot seat. He is 20-27-1 in three seasons in St. Louis, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 or finished with a winning record since 2003.
The Rams play in perhaps the toughest division in football, but it’s time to do some winning, right?
“Definitely,” Mason said. “I feel like it’s about time for us to have a winning season and a great season – a season that everybody can remember and say, ‘Wow, that was a team that changed history.’ We feel like we have a very hard schedule, (but) we feel like we have the pieces to the puzzle to beat everybody and get a lot of wins.”