The lone breakout day on offense for the Los Angeles Rams in what was a one-sided battle of L.A. on New Year’s Day? Cam Akers putting together a season-high 123 rushing yards in the 31-10 loss against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.
That’s now back-to-back 100-yard games for Akers, who delivered 118 yards in the Christmas romp of the Denver Broncos. But with the way Akers has been running and answering the bell for the Rams’ ground game, does this mean he’s adamant about carrying the load for the Rams in the future? Especially after Sean McVay told the media during the week of the game that he has no desire to trade Akers?
The McVay statement was brought up postgame for Akers. The running back, per Greg Beacham of the Associated Press, shared both his response and how he wants his Rams career to shake out.
“It made me feel good,” Akers said regarding McVay and the Rams wanting to keep him. “I would love to be a Ram for life. Definitely made me feel good.”
Akers Heavily Used in Loss
McVay and the Rams didn’t hesitate to feed their first pick from the 2020 NFL Draft: The first four plays to be exact.
It all became a prelude to a heavy usage day for Akers, especially when it came to the first play to start drives.
Akers gained back-to-back 8-yard runs to start the game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield even tried to hit a wide open Akers in the flat but the pass fell incomplete. But even after misfiring on that Akers check down attempt, Mayfied and the Rams still fed him the ball the next play for a 6-yard gain. But that opening drive ended with Mayfield getting sacked by former Ram Morgan Fox.
And in the second offensive possession, guess who got the ball to start? Akers — this time on a short 2-yarder. But on the sixth play of that drive, “Cam the Ram” found a crease on the left side of the Chargers and tacked on 42 yards — evading two tackle attempts before a third defender finally caught up to him:
That long scamper helped eventually set up a Matt Gay 23-yard field goal for the game’s first points and the only points of the opening quarter. The Rams still turned to Akers as the first offensive option in the third drive…this time touching the football three times on the six-play drive that led to a punt. The fourth drive was the first offensive possession that saw the Rams opt to throw on the opening play and not turn to Akers to start. And he still touched the football three times for 19 yards that ended with Malcolm Brown bursting through the middle on his 23-yard touchdown run.
In the end, the Rams only had three drives when Akers wasn’t the first option with the football in the possession’s first play. Akers acknowledged there has been a new emphasis on display for the offense with him as a big part of it.
“Just commitment to the run game,” Akers said to reporters after the loss. “I would say that’s the biggest thing. And being effective in the run game. I think it speaks for itself.”
And Akers welcomes the focus, saying “It’s the only thing I can do — make the most of my opportunities with the ball and without the ball.”
Akers Also Showed Unselfish Side
While most of the focus on Akers involves his running style and giving the Rams a ground grinder, he displayed an unselfish side without needing to carry the ball or go out for a pass.
Instead, he was seen protecting the passer. He didn’t just pick up blitzing safety Nasir Adderley, he drives him back and buries him behind right tackle Rob Havenstein:
Akers’ awareness gave Mayfield more clearance to hit Brycen Hopkins for a 21-yard strike.
It’s been quite the turnaround for Akers…who went from being away from the Rams for nearly a month following the October 9 Dallas Cowboys loss to being convinced he’s got more years left with the Rams. But Akers is simply responding to his renewed role with L.A.
“I’m just coming into work to go to work. I’m just playing football,” Akers said.