What about the Los Angeles Rams and their management of seemingly formidable young running backs? Sean McVay suggests that Cam Akers’ future with the team — not to mention his status for Sunday’s game against Carolina — is very much in question.
Akers burst onto the scene as an NFL rookie when given the chance, including rushing for 223 yards in two starts in the playoffs. Last year, a ripped Achilles kept Akers out until the regular season finale, where he made a stunning, quick recovery and returned in time for the team’s Super Bowl run.
Although he didn’t put up good numbers in his return, you can understand Akers having a bit of rust after such a serious injury so soon. Set to be the clear feature of the Rams’ offense in 2022, Akers instead shared far more time with Darrell Henderson Jr. than anyone could have anticipated. He got just three carries in the Week 1 loss to Buffalo and had just eight rushing attempts in a Monday night loss to the rival 49ers.
Something very strange is happening here. Important to keep in mind:
But I also argue that it’s very relevant to cite a rather similar situation that happened not too long ago regarding the Rams.
Now back to Todd Gurley. Knee injuries hampered Gurley throughout his time in the NFL, which earned him Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2017, his first season with McVay. Gurley signed a four-year, $60 million extension and backed it up with a career-high 17 rushing touchdowns the following year as the Rams headed to the Super Bowl to face the mighty Patriots.
After going for 115 yards and a score on just 17 carries in a divisional round win over Dallas, Gurley carried the rock just 14 times over the next two games.
Of course, Gurley didn’t seem to be running out of juice, and given that New England won that Super Bowl 13-3, perhaps Gurley could have been a spark with increased opportunities. How you pay a man such a big contract and only give him 10 sacks in the biggest game in the sport is beyond me. It still doesn’t make sense.
Then, behind a much worse run freeze in 2019, he had a down year as LA missed the playoffs for the first and only time yet under McVay. For whatever reason, Gurley was kicked off the sidewalk, struggled with the Falcons in 2020 and hasn’t played pro since. He just turned 28 in August.
I don’t know think Cam Akers suddenly washed up or forgot how to play football. He’s averaging three yards per run behind a run-out o line this year, so that doesn’t seem like a Trent Richardson-esque, steep decline. It was obvious, even in his first year with the Rams, that he could adopt McVay’s system and thrive there. He managed to string together a very respectable college career as Florida State was in the early stages of a rebuild. Akers can go all out.
All anyone can really do is speculate from afar, which makes this such a bizarre and unsettling development. Obviously, let’s hope the Cam Akers person, first and foremost, is okay… but seriously…
Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/ICT Tac