Cam Akers Tears Achilles
There are a few things that you never want to wake up to in the morning: 15 missed calls from your mom or girlfriend, a pinched nerve in your neck, or finding out a promising young NFL player tore his achilles one week before training camp. Unfortunately, this morning I woke up to the news that second year Rams running back, Cam Akers tore his achilles. I feel terrible for him, the Rams organization, and Rams fans. You get a good feeling about certain players who are set up in a position to do well. Out of all the second year running backs, Akers was arguably in the best position. He is playing for Sean McVay, who was major in his development as a rookie, and now has Matthew Stafford handing him the rock. There is no need to talk about what he was capable of doing this year because it would just be adding more flame to the fire.
First off, let's talk about why Rams fans should be excited about the comeback of Cam Akers. First off, he's only 22 years old and this injury is early enough in the offseason where he should be back by training camp next year. Akers is both a talented running back and receiver out of the backfield. I rewatched his game against the Seahawks in the wildcard round last year and it was so impressive. To be able to go into Lumen Field as a rookie in your first playoff game and run for over 130 yards... that performance doesn't get talked about enough. Another thing that doesn't get enough credit is his ability to manipulate the defense behind the line of scrimmage. His eyes are down field when he first gets the hand off and he'll act as if he's selling hard one way then will stick his foot in the ground and change directions. Akers has elite wiggle when shooting through small holes in the offensive line and was just a perfect fit for the Rams offense.
This year, Akers was going to dominate. As a second year running back, this is where you get a better feel for the flow of the game. Everything isn't moving 100 mph anymore, the game just slows down. A lot of Akers' rookie success was on late developing runs like counters and draws. This year, I would have loved to see him step up on direct handoffs. This time is also significant from a development standpoint as a blocker. The best running backs in the league will sit there and block for their quarterback. Akers showed that he was capable of being good in pass protection, but this year was meant would have been huge for consistency. I'm bummed that Akers won't be on the field in 2021, but he will be back and better in 2022.
Akers was supposed to be the lead back for the Rams this year, so now the question is where do they go from here? The only running back on the team that has playing experience is Darrell Henderson. I expect Henderson to have a big role in McVay's offense, but they are going to have to add another guy. There are quite a few veteran free agents out there. If they want a guy who is familiar with the offense they could go with their old friend, Todd Gurley. A few other available options are Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, and Duke Johnson. The Rams could also trade for a guy like: James Robinson, Phillip Lindsey, Tony Pollard, or Alexander Mattison. This is a crappy situation for the Rams, but Sean McVay knows that they can't get stuck up on it. They have to keep moving forward and find another guy who can take the load.