The Cam Akers era in Los Angeles could be nearing its end. During Friday’s press conference before the team takes on the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay declined to say whether he believes Akers will be a part of the team in the future.
This is one day after Akers took a “personal day” and missed practice. McVay added that the Rams and Akers are, “working through some things.”
In typical Rams fashion, McVay gave a very open-ended and vague answer. It was very reminiscent to Les Snead calling the Rams quarterback situation a “beautiful mystery” last offseason. In the same time period, Snead called Jared Goff the Rams quarterback “at this moment”. Not long after, the Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
If the vague language is an indication of anything, it’s that Akers might not be a Ram for much longer. The team has ruled him out for the game against the Panthers, meaning he could be moved as early as next week.
While shocking, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Akers has simply been ineffective since returning from his achilles injury at the end of last season. The former second-round pick has averaged just 2.56 yards per carry since returning and his 3.0 yards per carry this season ranks last among running backs with at least 50 carries. He also ranks last in EPA per rush this season.
Physically, Akers seems to be ok.
McVay characterizes this as an internal issue with Akers, who he says is physically ok. "We're dealing with things internally. ... he is gonna be OK." https://t.co/EsBCKbaSaN— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 14, 2022
According to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, McVay added, “I would say it’s more like we’re dealing with things internally. I don’t know, exactly…these are kind of uncharted territories...Out of respect for the situation, I want to keep it internal. You guys will have more information later on.”
The Rams need a spark in the running game and Akers hasn’t been able to provide that. He’s remained inconsistent and hasn’t shown that he can be the player that he was at the end of the 2020. On top of that, he hasn’t developed in pass protection which has also limited his ceiling.
The question becomes, where do the Rams go from here?
Is this a sign of the Rams committing to Darrell Henderson for the remainder of the season? So far this year, he’s been the best running back on the roster. He’s averaging a full yard per carry more than Akers. Additionally, he is one of just 11 running backs this season with at least 24 opportunities to not allow a pressure in pass protection according to Pro Football Focus.
In his career, Henderson has 20 games with at least 10 carries. In those games, Henderson has 280 carries for 1,256 yards. That’s an average of 4.49 yards per carry. Henderson has struggled with soft-tissue injuries in his career. Because of this, the Rams have shied away from making him a bell-cow. They’ve done a good job of managing him this season to keep him healthy. Henderson might now get his opportunity.
The Rams drafted running back Kyren Williams out of Notre Dame in the fifth round of April’s draft. Williams injured his foot in OTA’s and then suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1 on special teams. After the ankle injury, it was speculated that Williams would miss 6-8 weeks. We are now entering that return period.
According to Rodrigue, “McVay praised Williams after the rookie took first-team reps in joint practices against Cincinnati this summer.” This is clearly someone that the Rams like.
Williams was a good fit for what the Rams have typically looked for in running backs. While he ran a slow 40-time in pre-draft testing, he’s good in pass protection and a versatile player. Unlike Henderson, he’s a player that could handle a heavier workload and can also be a threat in the passing game.
A combination of Henderson and Williams isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The two players would compliment each other pretty well. This is probably the most-likely option as the Rams have other needs that they should prioritize on the trade market such as an edge rusher or offensive line.
Gibson looked phased out of the Washington Commanders offense on Thursday Night Football following the return of Brian Robinson. Gibson played just 15 snaps and had five carries. The Commanders could potentially look to move Gibson and he’d be a good fit in the Rams’ zone scheme. Gibson and Henderson were also teammates at Memphis.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell suggested a Rams trade for Michel for a 2024 seventh round pick. Michel had success with the Rams last season, leading the NFL in rushing during the month of December. He provided a spark last season and might be able to do the same if brought back. Michel’s price tag wouldn’t be very big and would be a veteran presence that the Rams need.
There are rumors surrounding Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. However, the Panthers have denied these reports. Earlier this offseason, the Cleveland Browns told Kareem Hunt that they weren’t planning on trading him.
One option that could make sense is Josh Jacobs. The Las Vegas Raiders could look to make Zamir White their primary ball-carrier. The Raiders didn’t pick up his fifth-year option and sitting at 1-4, they could look to get draft picks. Jacobs had success under Jon Gruden who runs a similar offense as McVay.