Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Hints at Week 3 Availability for New RB Cam Akers

Cam Akers, Rams

Getty Running back Cam Akers, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams.

The Minnesota Vikings added a player in Cam Akers who could potentially become the starting running back, though that won’t happen this weekend.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell held a press conference on Friday, September 22, during which he explained that Akers will almost certainly sit out Sunday’s Week 3 home contest against the Los Angeles Chargers and will instead prepare to make his debut against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

“He’ll work towards potentially being a part of what we do next week, but it’s a little too soon to ask him to go this week,” O’Connell said. “So more than likely he will be down for the game. But he’s off to a great start here in about a day and a half of work or so.”

Alexander Mattison to Remain Vikings’ Lead Back, Cam Akers to Have Immediate Role

Kevin O'Connell, Vikings

GettyHead coach Kevin O’Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

Reporters asked O’Connell what the roles will be when Akers joins a backfield in Week 4 that has been led by Alexander Mattison, with second-year running back Ty Chandler serving in a backup role.

“I think we’ll work a lot of those things out as far as how many touches here and there for guys,” O’Connell said. “I see both guys having a role. I see both guys really thriving off of each other.”

The coach added complimentary remarks about Chandler as a threat in the kick-return game and said he will also “continue to have a role” in the run game.

As for the starting job, O’Connell made it clear that it is still Mattison’s to lose even when Akers fully joins the fold.

“I told Alex nothing changes for him. The feelings I’ve had since the first time really talking to you guys about Alex and his role for us, still all feel the same,” O’Connell said. “There’s 1,000 things we can all do better to improve our run game. But as far as Alex Mattison goes, he’s our lead back and [we] want to continue to try to build things around him.”

Cam Akers Has Potential to Start for Vikings Down the Road

Cam Akers

Getty Running back Cam Akers, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, runs with the football during an NFL game in September 2023.

O’Connell continued to speak about Akers and their time together when he was the Rams’ offensive coordinator. While Mattison remains the starter in Minnesota, at least for now, the coach’s commentary indicated he believes Akers is capable of eventually stepping into a starting role.

Always just had respect for his toughness, his ability to really be a potential three-down back, I think, in this league. Cam’s a tough runner. He’s experienced in some of our schemes. He came in in great shape.

I think he fits right in with our team, our culture. And hopefully we can build towards having him being an impact on our offense. At this point, it’s still so early, wanting him to get acclimated in our offense — our version of our offense — which there’s some things he’s getting up to speed on, but there is quite a bit of carry over for him.

Akers also spoke with the media on Friday for the first time since joining the organization.

“Just getting to know the team, the coaches, the people — that’s probably the main learning curve for me right now,” Akers said. “Ninety percent of the playbook I already know, kinda comfortable with.”

Reporters also asked the running back why things didn’t work out in Los Angeles after he tallied 786 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns there last season in 15 appearances, including nine starts.

“Uhhh, I don’t know,” Akers answered. “I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy for a fresh start. I’m happy for the opportunity. I’m happy to come in and contribute in whatever way I can to this team.”

Akers went on to say that the Vikings were among his top choices of destination, that he likes the pieces the team has in place and described the situation for him in Minnesota as “pretty much perfect.”

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