What’s wrong with LA Rams RB Cam Akers? Optimistic expectations

Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Cam Akers
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Comebacks from Achilles Tendon injuries are not easy

Forget the miraculous recovery time for LA Rams RB Cam Akers. Yes, he returned to the LA Rams roster in record time. But even to this day, we do not truly have the answer as to whether he has fully recovered. Before his injury in his rookie season, Akers flashed brilliance whenever he touched the football, piling up 625 yards and two touchdowns.

But the best part was how rapidly his rushing production improved. After Thanksgiving Day, 2020, he put up 340 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season, then proceeded to pile up another 221 yards and two touchdowns in two postseason contests. 4.3 yards per rush in the regular season. 4.8 yards per rush in the playoffs.  It appeared as though the LA Rams had found their featured running back of the future.

Well, had is the operative word. In 2021, we all recall that Cam Akers suffered an Achilles Tendon injury. For NFL fans, we’ve grown accustomed to the ability of NFL players to return from ACL/MCL injuries, injuries that ended NFL careers at one point in time. Now, surgical repairs and intensive rehabilitation can put that player back into the lineup lickety-split, none the worse for wear.

Achilles’ injuries remain the bane of NFL players. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft after Jones had suffered an Achilles Tendon injury. Jone’s injury was a high tear, one with far more chance of recuperating nearly to pre-injury levels. Jones has never lived up to his pre-injury projections but is currently playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

We simply do not know where Cam Akers’s rupture occurred, or how extensive the injury was.  What we do know is that he was medically cleared to return in time to suit up for the Rams’ final game of the season.  But returning in some form is a far cry from returning in pre-injury form.

"“our research concludes that no running back has ever recaptured sustained pre-injury form after rupturing an Achilles tendon”.  – As quoted by Sports King author Dave Manuel in Cam Akers Faces Long Odds in Returning to Previous Standing article"

Since that injury, Akers has carried the football eight times for a total of three yards in the regular season. In the 2021 playoffs, he carried the football 67 times for 172 yards, 0 touchdowns, and two fumbles.  That works out to an average of just 2.67 yards per rush.  Hmm.

Before injury? 191 carries,  4.43 YPC, 846 yards, 4 TD, 1 FUM
After injury? 75 carries, 2.33 YPC, 175 yards, 0 TD, 2 FUM

Is it all a matter of a bad offensive line? Is it all a matter of lack of opportunities? Let’s dig further . . .