- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Zac Stacy made his mark as a fifth-round pick last year, falling just shy of 1,000 yards. Now, the running back must prove his worth all over again.

The St. Louis Rams sent a message in this year’s draft, taking Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason in the third round. And though they’ve released Daryl Richardson, undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham was impressive last season and former second-rounder Isaiah Pead remains in the mix.

There’s always going to be someone gunning for the job.

“Oh absolutely, there’s going to be competition,” Stacy said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Stacy has the advantage heading into training camp because he knows the routine, has a better grasp of the playbook and knows firsthand about the pounding that must be absorbed.

“You know what to expect, you know what’s going on,” Stacy said. “Last year, as rookies we were all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It’s been great so far.”

Mason was the SEC offensive player of the year and the first non-quarterback to lead Auburn in total offense since Bo Jackson in 1985, running for 1,816 yards with 23 touchdowns and setting school single-season records for all-purpose yards and rushing TDs.

Given Mason shredded Missouri for 304 yards and four TDs in the SEC championship game, he arrived at Rams Park a well-known commodity. He won’t be satisfied as a change-of-pace option, coach Jeff Fisher’s initial assessment.

“Not sure how it starts out, and you never know what can happen in the future,” Mason said. “I’m here to do what they ask of me.”

Stacy’s rookie season is a good example. The first four games, he was inactive twice and totaled 4 yards on a single carry.

Stacy is Vanderbilt’s career leading rusher. Mason was a much bigger star in the SEC for Auburn’s national championship runners-up and deemed a premium pick.

“I’m happy for Tre or whatnot,” Stacy said. “Obviously, with him being one of the top college running backs last year, we know the things he can do, and it’s all about the adjustment to the playbook.”

Stacy aims to make everything come naturally on the field, so he’s not taking the team’s OTA sessions lightly

“Very important, very important,” Stacy said. “Treating every rep like it’s a game rep.”

Richardson was the starter entering training camp last summer, coming off an effective rookie season as the Steven Jackson’s understudy, but was dogged by foot injuries. Stacy got the starting job in Week 5 and didn’t let go.

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