The Los Angeles Rams managed to revamp their run game last season thanks to the emergence of Cam Akers.
Akers’ rookie year got off to a rough start after missing three games due to injury. Fortunately, he was finally able to hit his stride down the stretch and wound up finishing as the team’s leading rusher with 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries.
As a result, the dynamic in the backfield has changed significantly since head coach Sean McVay was going with a committee last year. Akers is now poised to become a bonafide workhorse for this offense in the 2021 NFL season.
The former second-round pick showed he is capable of handling the bulk of the carries in the run game. However, McVay plans on utilizing his skill set as a pass-catcher out of the backfield as well, via Kevin Modesti of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“He’s obviously a great runner, but he’s got ability as a pass-catcher coming from the backfield, and we can displace him and put him in the slot or the outside receiver location,” McVay said of Akers. “There’s not any limitations, but we’ll see how it comes to life.”
Akers feels that going into Year 2 with the added benefit of a full offseason has paid some dividends:
“Mentally, everything has just slowed down, everything is easier for me,” Akers said recently. “I understand the playbook a lot more, I understand blocking schemes, I understand who I need to block.”
Akers’ comments are indicative of the tremendous strides he has made in his progress since arriving in L.A. Not only is he emphasizing the mental aspect of the position, but the need to improve on his pass blocking is a promising sign from a young player.
The plan for Akers hardly comes as any surprise since McVay already addressed the prospect of him becoming an every-down player when the offseason began.
Of course, becoming a three-down back is more than just being able to make plays with the ball in their hands. Akers will need to prove that he is capable of holding his own in the blocking scheme, especially with quarterback Matthew Stafford’s protection being a top priority.
The 21-year-old was not as active in the passing game as a rookie after hauling in just 11 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. Regardless, McVay’s comments indicate that the the Rams are more than confident in his ability to take that next step in the 2021 campaign.