One of the things I am looking for out of LA Rams’ second-year running back Cam Akers is poise. A year ago, he arrived humble and hoped that he could contribute through the course of the 2020 NFL season. This year, he arrives with a bit of confidence, almost swagger, which is nice to hear from an offensive weapon.
That familiarity with the NFL is a huge step for the second-year running back. The offseason training is more about the process of preparing for an NFL season, and less about the cattle-shoot onboarding process for wide-eyed rookies. Things start to slow down in year two for an NFL player because recognition takes over where unfamiliarity once existed.
It’s a fun fact that second-year running back Cam Akers has more LA Rams experience than veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford with the team. But more importantly, all of the “I’m in Los Angeles” chapter of his rookie season is written and behind him. So too is the chapter about “I’m playing for the Los Angeles Rams”. It’s all written and in the books.
Suit up Cam
Where veteran running back Malcolm Brown once led the team’s rushing attack, now it’s up to Cam Akers. So all of the novelty of his rookie season has been replaced this year with the diligence of synching up with veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, learning blocking responsibilities on blitzing defenders, and reestablishing himself in OTAs (of course, no pads or tackling) on his timing to hit the holes.
Rookies quarterbacks and running backs sometimes experience a sophomore slump. Players like Ickey Woods, Robert Griffin III, Rashaan Salaam, and Baker Mayfield are four such rookies who experienced a drop-off the following year. I don’t expect the same for Cam Akers’s second season for two reasons. First and foremost, he was not exactly handed the football as he got off the bus and directed to start for the Rams offense. But perhaps more so, the Rams coaching staff have been deliberate in slowly developing Akers into the team’s primary rusher.
Akers grew stronger as the season progressed and arguably was his best in the two playoff games where he put up 46 carries for 221 yards with two touchdowns, but also caught three passes for 51 yards. 272 yards of offense against two of the toughest teams in the NFL was certainly doing his part.
Will Cam Akers deliver an NFL Top-10 rushing performance? We’ll see soon enough. But for now, it’s enough to know that the LA Rams were able to depend upon him to carry the ball in 2020, and that will translate into more confidence from the team in his ability this year. That confidence is part of Cam Akers now. He looks and sounds like a veteran running back.