Malcom Brown gets start at running back for Rams as Todd Gurley sits out

Running back Malcolm Brown, usually a backup, started and was one of the few bright spots Saturday for a Rams offense that struggled to find its rhythm in a 21-19 preseason loss to the Chargers at the Coliseum.

Starting running back Todd Gurley was among multiple inactive players. It appears Gurley might not play again until the Sept. 10 opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

In the first half, Brown rushed for 44 yards, including a 13-yard gain, in nine carries. He also caught one pass for 22 yards.

A third-year pro, Brown has proved to be a serviceable backup through three preseason games. He rushed for 25 yards in five carries in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys and had 13 yards in nine carries against the Oakland Raiders last week.

The battle for a roster spot behind Brown continues between Aaron Green, a member of the practice squad last season as a rookie, and undrafted free agent Justin Davis from USC.

Green was slowed during training camp and sidelined for the first preseason game after he underwent hand surgery. Wearing a cast on his left hand, Green played on special teams last week and was inserted on offense Saturday. He rushed for eight yards in five carries.

Davis, who rushed for 70 yards but fumbled twice in his first preseason game, rushed for 14 yards in five carries and caught four passes for 36 yards against the Chargers.

The Rams signed Lance Dunbar, who played five seasons with the Cowboys, to back up Gurley but a knee injury kept Dunbar sidelined through offseason workouts and he has not participated in training camp.

Down a tight end

Backup tight end Temarrick Hemingway suffered an apparent injury at the beginning of the second quarter and was taken from the field on a cart.

Hemingway, a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, caught one pass for 13 yards in the preseason opener against Dallas.

Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett started against the Chargers. Everett, a second-round pick in the 2017 draft, caught two passes for six yards.

Mannion makes connection

Backup quarterback Sean Mannion replaced Jared Goff after the first series of the second quarter.

Mannion completed the only Rams touchdown pass of the game, a 38-yard strike to rookie receiver Josh Reynolds.

Mannion was 16 for 29 for 214 yards, with no interceptions.

Etc.

Rookie cornerback Dominique Hatfield intercepted a pass by Cardale Jones. … Kicker Greg Zuerlein made a 57-yard field goal and Travis Coons made a 53-yard attempt. …Linebacker Andy Mulumba recovered a fumble. … Among those listed as inactive were Gurley, receivers Cooper Kupp, Nelson Spruce and Michael Thomas, defensive lineman Michael Brockers and linebackers Mark Barron, Alec Ogletree, Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin. … Cornerbacks Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman, who have been limited at practice, did not play.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

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