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Random Ramsdom: Should fans believe Cam Akers will be “central figure” in the offense?

Los Angeles Rams News and Links for 6/17/23

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams RB Cam Akers To Be ‘Central Figure’ In Los Angeles Offense (fannation/ramsdigest)

“During a recent interview on “SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio,” Rams head coach Sean McVay expressed high praise for Akers. McVay commended Akers for his outstanding performance during the spring and anticipates him playing a significant role in the team’s offense this upcoming season.

“He’s had a great offseason. I love the rapport that he’s established with Ron Gould, our new running backs coach. Cam is going to be a central figure in this offense. I think he’s priming himself to have a great year.” McVay said.

During the closing stretch of last season, Akers emerged as the driving force behind the Rams’ offense. Despite several key starters being sidelined due to injuries, Akers stepped up, accumulating an impressive 512 yards on 104 carries and scoring six touchdowns in the final six games.

As a result of his exceptional performance, and his ability to shoulder the responsibilities of the running back position, he proved invaluable during the team’s most critical moments.”

Updated look at Cooper Kupp’s cap hits, Rams salary cap following restructure (ramswire)

“With very little cap space to work with, the Los Angeles Rams made a move to free up a bunch of money. They restructured Cooper Kupp’s contract, which opened up $10.44 million in spending money this year.

While it’s possible they’ll use that newfound cap space to sign a veteran free agent, it’s more likely that they’ll simply hold onto it in order to have some roster flexibility when it comes to practice squad promotions and in-season signings.

Restructuring a player’s contract seems like a simple way to create cap space, but it does come with a price. It increases the player’s cap hits in future years, thus reducing the amount of space the team has down the road – all depending on how many years are left on the contract.

For Kupp, he’s signed through 2026, so the Rams were able to prorate the salary they converted into a signing bonus across three future years. According to Over The Cap, the Rams now have $10.75 million in cap space after restructuring Kupp’s contract. That’s still the 12th-lowest in the NFL for this year, however.

As for Kupp’s contract, his cap hit was lowered by $10.44 million in 2023 and increased by $3.48 million in each of the next three years. Not that the Rams plan to move on from him before his contract expires, but doing so just got a little bit more costly if they were to cut or trade Kupp.”

Matthew Stafford’s Return from Injury a ‘Night and Day’ Difference for Rams, HC Says (bleacherreport)

“With Stafford healthy enough to participate in this week’s minicamp, the Rams expect a better outcome for the team this fall. It’s a difference coach Sean McVay called “night and day,” ESPN’s Dan Greenspan reported.

“I don’t think I realized it or anybody, and he would never say it because he’s so tough, the amount of pain that he was working through, how limited he was,” McVay said. “But to have our quarterback, the command, the way that he really elevates [the team], his communication skills, it’s been huge for us. He makes a significant difference.”

Even before missing the final two months of the 2022 season, Stafford had battled an elbow issue dating back to 2021 which kept him from participating in last year’s minicamp and OTAs.

Stafford underwent a “non-surgical procedure” on his right elbow last summer. Just before the Rams took on the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, Stafford told reporters he had “no limitations” on his throwing arm.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles and Stafford, that was not the only injury the quarterback would suffer that season.

Stafford missed Week 10 against the Arizona Cardinals on November 13 after being put in concussion protocol. That was his first absence since joining the Rams in 2021, and only his ninth game missed since 2011.

He returned for Week 11 at the New Orleans Saints before getting shut down for the rest of the season after suffering a spinal cord contusion, which caused numbness in his legs. Stafford finished the season with 10 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions while throwing for 2,087 yards in nine starts, during which the Rams put up some of the lowest offensive numbers in the NFL.

It was a far way to fall after the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI win the year before.

Los Angeles general manager Les Snead said this spring that the team’s plan was to build through the draft, per ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. The Rams made 14 selections in April. Those included an offensive line addition with guard, center, and tackle experience in TCU’s Steve Avila as well as a potential new slot defender in TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who won the 2022 Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football.”

Russ Yeast could be poised for starting role in Rams secondary (ramswire)

“During an interview with J.B. Long, McVay talked about three second-year defensive backs who have really stood out this offseason and will be counted on to be key members of the defense. He unsurprisingly mentioned Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick, two projected starters at cornerback, but he then named Russ Yeast.

He’s not committing to Yeast as the starter next to Fuller, but it’s still a strong statement to say he’ll be a big part of the defense – especially because he didn’t mention another second-year safety, Quentin Lake.

Yeast and Lake are projected to be the top competitors for the second safety spot and Yeast might have an edge in that battle right now.

“I think guys that have really stood out, when you start on the back end: Decobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, Russ Yeast,” McVay said. “Those are three guys that are gonna have – we’re counting on them to be big parts of what we’re doing. And gosh, they’ve taken great steps in the right direction. Aubrey Pleasant does such a great job with that group. Chris Beake, Mike Harris, they’ve got a competitive swag about themselves. Love what they’ve done.”

Yeast was active for 15 games and made one start, but he mostly played special teams as a rookie before eventually getting a shot at safety late in the year. He had 10 tackles in his final three games, including one tackle for a loss.

He’s an aggressive defender and big hitter, which makes him a nice complement to Fuller at safety. Both Yeast and Fuller are primarily free safeties – Yeast played 103 of his 113 snaps there in 2022 and Fuller played 63% of his at free safety in 2021, according to PFF – but the Rams should be able to use them interchangeably in the box and back deep.”