Even LA Rams RB Cam Akers is beginning to believe

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams rookie RB Cam Akers is finally getting carries. Perhaps that because he is finally starting to believe

The LA Rams did not shop for any ole running back in the 2020 NFL Draft. The teams knew that he would be replacing one of the most proficient running backs of his day in the NFL in Todd Gurley.  And the ideal rookie prospect would need to be a virtual swiss army knife in the backfield. He would need to flash speed, gear down to make tough yards. He would need to be a blocker and a receiver.

But most of all, any successful rookie at the running back position would need to be effective at finding a small crease and running for daylight. The Rams offensive line in 2019 was not very effective, but the team was tethered to the mindset of running through huge holes. That luxury was simply something that the Rams would not be able to replicate in 2020.

2020 NFL Scouting Combine

Rookie RB Cam Akers stole the show at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He was not one of the more talked about runners from his NCAAF statistics, but he most certainly did open some eyes wide at the Combine. His best performance occurred at the newly installed Duce Staley drill, a drill that tests a running back footwork and keying off how a DB plays against the run. Cam Akers absolutely dominated that drill, displaying such incredible footwork that he stole the luster from other candidates.

The young man demonstrated everything that the Rams were looking for in a running back.

Rookie to NFL runner

From that point on, the Rams were sold and did not hesitate to select the young man from the Florida State Seminoles with the 52nd pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. But once on the team, progressing from newcomer to featured back was a difficult journey. The Rams, like all 32 NFL teams, were forced to cancel OTA’s and delay training camp until the NFL and NFLPA had developed the appropriate safety protocols to prevent transmitting COVID-19 among players and staff.

Building up Akers’ usage in the offense has been slow going. In the first twelve NFL games, Akers was limited to just 59 rushes for 285 yards and one touchdown. It was his ninth game, one against the San Francisco 49ers, that proved Akers was ready for more work. He rushed just nine times in that game for 84 yards and a touchdown.  He failed to break 100 yards in that game simply because the Rams failed to give him the ball.

The team would not make that mistake again.

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Akers arrives

And so, it has fallen upon rookie running back to carry the lion’s share of the carries, and so far he has been incredible in the role. In the past two games, he has carried the pigskin 50 times for 243 yards and a touchdown. If you layer in that 49ers contest, he has carried the ball 59 times for 327 yards and two touchdowns in the past three games. And his teammates are starting to notice.

The promotion of Akers to the featured back role will not really change what the Rams do at the position. The Rams will continue to sample each running back in games, and will simply play the running back who is most effective in the game.

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But from what we’ve witnessed in the past three games, it seems that Akers has the inside track on carrying the ball for the Rams into the NFC Playoffs. If he can string together 100 yards rushing in the NFC Playoffs, the Rams will be able to count on running the ball and a strong defense in the post-season.  It seems as though rookie running back Cam Akers is finally learning to trust himself. Perhaps even more importantly, his teammates are beginning to trust in him as well.