Can LA Rams and Cam Akers coexist in 2023?
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams may or may not be better at running with the football in 2023, but there is no doubt that veteran RB Cam Akers was part of the solution towards the end of the 2022 NFL season. With a patchwork offensive line in front of him, and a newly arrived free agent quarterback Baker Mayfield handling the snaps and leading the offense, Akers found a way of restoring himself after a devastating Achilles Tendon injury, to the tune of putting up three consecutive 100+ yard rushing efforts.
While it was a suprising surge, it came at a time when most fans had either tuned out, or had already pivoted their interest toward younger players on the roster. In truth, those final three games were not big games that meant nothing. In fact, when it came to opposing defenses, the Rams offense had already decided to sit the starting quarterback and most of the top receivers. So defensive coordinators had the luxury of focusing on Akers as the most dangerous offensive weapon remaining on the team. Either they failed to recognize that he was dangerous, or they simply failed to stop him. I believe they failed at the latter.
Fans are not so quick to applaud his efforts though. This was a player who was quite frustrated over the LA Rams situation that he faced, to the point where he sat out for three weeks while the Rams front office attempted to find a suitable trading partner to place Akers into a better environment. That soured many fans towards him, and from that point on, no matter what he did or how well he did it, some simply made up their minds not to be impressed
Can Rams and Akers let bygones be bygones?
The LA Rams are not an organization that tolerates dissent or frustration very well. In fact, if you examine the history of the team with veteran players, you will find that any player who appears frustrated over his workload, contract negotiations or renegotiations, or personality clashes with coaches soon find themselves playing for other teams. That is a patter that includes veteran defensive lineman Michael Brockers, wide receiver Robert Woods, and may not include running back Cam Akers.
The only difference with Akers is that the Rams restored Akers to the lineup after reports of a good conversation between Akers and Coach Sean McVay surfaced. The reports themselves may not have been enough to warrant revising any opinions, but after that 'good conversation,' the Rams release RB Darrell Henderson Jr., parted ways with RB Coach Ra'Shaad Samples, and restored TE Coach Thomas Brown to oversee the Rams running backs as well. That hardly seems like the type of actions taken by a team that were ready to tell their best rusher to pound sand.
And so, the Rams roster may or may not need more RB help. Some have already eliminated Cam Akers from consideration in 2023, as he clearly was not happy at one point in the 2022 NFL season. But after he and the Rams got back on the same page, he finished stronger than many expected. What will that mean for 2023? I suppose we cannot be certain until we know the answer to a far more basic question: Can the LA Rams and RB Cam Akers let bygones be bygones?