ST. LOUIS (AP) — Not long after rookie Zac Stacy made the St. Louis Rams' lineup, the running back became an indispensable part of the offense.
The fifth-round pick regularly gets 20-plus touches on game day, followed by rest early in the practice week to help preserve him for another game.
The bye week helped Stacy hit the field right away instead of taking mental reps for Sunday's game against the Bears.
"It's always good to get a break," Stacy said. "I feel well-rested, ready to go. Ready to get back to work."
During the four-day hiatus, Stacy watched alma mater Vanderbilt become bowl eligible for the third straight season. The school's career leading rusher connected with former teammates, too.
But he never really disconnected from the playbook.
"When you hear it so much, and we've been hearing some of the stuff as far as play-calling for the past 14 weeks, it's instilled in your mind," Stacy said. "I was thinking about plays during the break. Absolutely. It's second nature."
Coach Jeff Fisher has leaned on big-body backs in the past, Eddie George in Tennessee and Steven Jackson in St. Louis last season.
The 5-foot-8, 214-pound Stacy is a bit undersized for that type of duty, but has a bowling ball physique that makes him tough to take down, plus he hits the holes decisively.
"He knows his stuff," quarterback Kellen Clemens said. "He's got that Vandy education and he doesn't take any negative runs, either."
The Rams (4-6) traded away their last two picks of the draft to get Stacy, who is second among NFL rookies with 537 yards rushing and averaging 4.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns. He also has 15 receptions with a 6.5-yard average and one score.
This week, he'll be facing the 31st-ranked defense against the run. The Bears are allowing 133.9 yards per game.