THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – It was enough to help the Rams win Super Bowl LVI. It was not enough, though, to satisfied his own standards.
Running back Cam Akers made a remarkable same-season return from a torn Achilles last season, managing to return in time for the Los Angeles' playoff run. Yet those five games played left him unsatisfied with his performance.
"We won the games, so they went well," Akers said during a video conference Thursday, when asked by a reporter to assess his performance during that span. "It went well at the end of the day, but a lot of clips to learn from, a lot of plays to learn from, and that's exactly what I'm doing, learning from them. I don't feel like I played my best games, the five games that I returned."
Akers tore his Achilles on July 20, making his return less than six months later in the Rams' Week 18 matchup against the 49ers. Re-introduced into the offseason with a light workload – he had eight offensive touches in total between his five rushing attempts for three yards and three receptions for 10 yards – Akers was virtually unrestricted for the Rams' playoff opener eight days later, posting 17 carries for 55 yards and adding one reception for 40 yards in their 34-14 Wild Card win over the Cardinals.
Between the regular season finale and those four postseason games, Akers collectively tallied 72 carries for 175 yards and 11 receptions for 86 yards.
"I feel like God prepared me for the moment," Akers said. "I was ready. I wasn't behind mentally. Obviously I was behind a little bit physically, maybe conditioning-wise, but mentally, which is probably the most important for me, I wasn't behind. I knew what I what I was supposed to be doing. I was able to hit the ground running."
Production being what it was, the seemingly improbable return was not lost on Akers' teammates who also know his true potential.
"He's a freak," Rams center said. "He's an awesome running back. When he really is 100 percent healthy, the sky's the limit for him."
Akers will look to return to that form working under a new position coach in Ra'Shaad Samples, who was hired to replace Thomas Brown, who is still assistant head coach but now coaches the tight ends instead of the running backs. So far that transition has been seamless given the traits Akers and Samples share – and of course, Brown is still around if Akers needs anything from him.
"Coach Samp is a great guy," Akers said. "From out little interactions, we had a few meetings, we talked, real down-to-earth, real detail-oriented, and so am I. I think we can just help each other help this team be successful, that's the goal. And as far as coach Brown, he's still around, you know, so I can go talk to him anytime I need to. It's kind of the same."
In 2020, Akers was the Rams' leading rusher with 625 yards as a rookie. He also accounted for their longest run of the season with his 61-yard carry against the 49ers.
In 2022, he will look to return to that form, knowing the brief 2021 season didn't meet his own expectations.
"I did what I was supposed to do, but that was not enough for me," Akers said.