Rams ‘Explosive’ Returner Listed as 2022 Breakout Candidate

Cam Akers

Getty Cam Akers during Super Bowl 56 with the Rams.

For all the offensive fireworks the Los Angeles Rams ignited in Inglewood and elsewhere during their Super Bowl run, the offense was still considered an un-complete unit.

There was one key missing element: An explosive running game.

Sony Michel may have led the way in the ground game. But the now former Ram never surpassed 850 rushing yards. Not one Ram running back crossed the end zone more than five times, either. The Rams, surprisingly, haven’t produced a 1,000-yard back in the last three seasons — with Todd Gurley representing the last back to cross the century mark (1,251 yards in 2018).

Now, with one returner back and ready to shoulder the load, Bleacher Report is a strong early believer in a healthier Cam Akers…naming him their top breakout candidate on the Rams for 2022.

Why B/R is High on Akers

Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton put out the list of every team’s top breakout candidate for the upcoming season on Monday, May 16. He believes Akers will add a more explosive element inside the “Rams House.”

“Adding Akers back helps bring a new dynamic to the offense because he’s more explosive as a rusher and receiver than anyone on the Rams roster,” Wharton wrote.

Wharton acknowledged that the ground attack was the missing link, especially after Akers went down before training camp.

“For all that went right for the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl quest in 2021, their running game was certainly not a bright spot,” Wharton wrote. “Losing young running back Cam Akers to a torn Achilles injury appeared devastating at the time. He was expected to be the bell cow for an offense that had been dominant on the ground under head coach Sean McVay.”

Not having Akers altered the offense and eventually forced the Rams to make the aggressive move to trade for Michel. Still, the front five for the Rams noticeably struggled in opening up holes after handoffs.

“Instead, Akers’ absence highlighted how much the offensive line was struggling to create lanes for less dynamic backs,” Wharton said. “Los Angeles finished 25th in yards and yards per carry, with Sony Michel leading the team with 845 yards. Thankfully for the Rams, quarterback Matthew Stafford was up for the challenge of carrying the offense.”

The Bold Prediction for Akers

Akers, miraculously, found his way back onto the field — even practicing on New Year’s Eve 2021.

Once the playoffs came for the Rams, Akers was cleared for takeoff…and began to look like the RB the Rams drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The running back room, again, no longer has Michel as he’s since joined the Miami Dolphins as a late free agent pickup in May. Akers will be around familiar faces Darrell Henderson and Jake Funk.

The Rams, however, took Kyren Williams out of Norte Dame at No. 164 overall in the 2022 draft. Williams was described as a “combative runner” and a “worker bee” by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein. Williams could also come in and fill this role vacated by Michel: Picking up blitzes from his RB spot:

Kyren Williams #23 Blitz Blocking HIGHLIGHTS vs Clemson 2020yes i made a video solely of Kyren Williams blocking blitz after blitz. if it wasnt for him doing that over and over Ian book wouldnt have had enough time to complete any passes. Great Job Kyren!2020-11-08T22:00:19Z

But with Akers heading to 2022 fully healthy, he’s already projected to finally ignite a new kind of fireworks for the Rams offense. And Wharton has this bold prediction on the breakout pick for the champs.

“Michel left for Miami in free agency, leaving Akers as the clear lead back moving forward. Watch for him to find more success than his predecessors,” Wharton wrote.

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