THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Even in a committee backfield and with three games missed due to injury, running back Cam Akers still wound up as the Rams' leading rusher by the end of his rookie season.
He also showed enough to potentially take on an expanded role in his second season.
"You could see he's always had a real and authentic confidence, but then as he's getting more and more comfortable for the different ways that we were able to utilize him, I think he can come alive in the pass game," Rams head coach Sean McVay said during a Feb. 25 video conference. "I think he can continue to play at a high level. Really, I think he's an every-down back. I think he's a special player."
Rotating with second-year pro Darrell Henderson Jr. and veteran Malcolm Brown, Akers tallied a team-high 148 carries for 625 rushing yards in 13 games last season, also rushing for two touchdowns.
While Akers had just 11 receptions on 14 targets for 123 yards and one touchdown as a receiver – Henderson (16 catches on 24 targets, 159 yards) and Brown (23 catches on 33 targets, 162 yards) were more involved in the passing game between the three – he has shown he's capable of being a viable option in that phase, having logged 69 catches for 486 yards (good for 7.0 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns in three seasons at Florida State. Of those 69 catches, 30 came during his final season as a Seminole.
Akers has previously said he didn't have a full grasp of the Rams offense's concepts until the midway point of last season. An unlucky and painful rib injury sustained against the Eagles in Week 2 – which sidelined him for two weeks – also hindered potential early-season progress.
"Really if it wasn't for that setback that Cam had in the Philly game – I think that rib injury kind of set him back a little bit," McVay said. "You saw Darrell Henderson (Jr.) step up, Malcolm Brown was really consistent throughout the year, but Cam hit his stride at the right moments."
Over his final four regular season contests, Akers averaged 21.5 carries and saw 11 of his 14 targets in the passing game.
The last of those strides then came in the postseason, tallying 46 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns, plus three catches for 51 yards, to help the Rams reach the divisional round.
Perhaps more of that will be in store this fall.