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Cam Akers listed among “most underappreciated” players in NFL

Is running back poised for breakout campaign heading into third season?

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers’ 2021 campaign was seemingly over before it ever began. At the time, expectations were high that the promising sophomore would have a breakout season after a strong conclusion to his rookie year, especially in the playoffs.

As we know, Akers had torn his Achilles in preseason and was expected to miss the entire season before making a speedy recovery just in time for LA’s Super Bowl run. The production once he made his triumphant return wasn’t pretty as the Rams faced off against some of the toughest run defenses the league had to offer.

Through four playoff games, Akers started three of them and rushed for only 172 yards and no touchdowns on 67 carries. Shaking off rust after taking just eight offensive snaps in the regular season was the likely culprit for Cam’s poor playoff performance. Despite that dismal showcase, the third-year back was listed among the most underappreciated players in the NFL according to Cynthia Frelund of the NFL Network:

“Akers played in only one regular-season game during the 2021 campaign after his extremely speedy Achilles recovery (he tore it prior to the start of training camp). However, many data points, including an impressive rookie campaign, reveal his true value. Last season without Akers, L.A. was one of just three teams that had zero snaps with multiple running backs on the field. Also, they used empty backfields at the highest rate of any team in the NFL (19 percent of snaps), while using play-action at one of the lowest rates (23.4 percent, ranking 22nd). Sure, they still won the Super Bowl with that approach. But they should be that much more dangerous with Akers back in the fold. His availability creates more options for Sean McVay and also helps the transition to a new O-line configuration with Andrew Whitworth’s retirement.”

Given that Akers has more time to rehab, he should look more like his old self come September than he did this past February. Achilles injuries typically take up to a year to recover and the fact that not only did he recover quickly, he was able to handle a heavy workload in the postseason and that’s enough room for optimism.

McVay and the Rams’ front office obviously believe in Cam as evidenced by letting Sony Michel walk in free agency. If a team didn’t have faith in a player like Akers, they would’ve kept someone like Michel for insurance. At this time, Cam is ahead of only Darrell Henderson and rookie Kyren Williams on the depth chart. Henderson is a decent back when healthy but that’s always a big “if” for him.

Clearly this won’t be enough for some fans out there as they can’t get past how the running back looked underneath the brightest lights upon his return.

No matter what may happen between now and the season opener, it’ll be quite a thrill watching what Cam makes of his opportunities should he remain healthy and a vital component of the offense. Akers along with teammates Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson recently topped CBS Sports’ list of best offensive trios in the NFL. FanDuel also named Cam as the best back in the NFC West for this season.

Needless to say, the sky is truly the limit for the Florida State product. Let’s hope the third time around the league will truly be the charm for Akers.