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Random Ramsdom: Will Cam Akers and LA’s running game take off this year?

Los Angeles Rams News and Links for 8/12/23

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday! We had (what I consider) a lot of comments for Friday’s Random Ramsdom. I want to thank the commentors and readers and I challenge all of us when I say: Let’s keep it going!

Today’s leading link/article is about Sean McVay being “pleased” with aspects of the running game. I won’t really know a thing about this running game until we see the Los Angeles Rams in regulation and meaningful football, but hopefully McVay is seeing some things that give him optimism for this year’s running game.

I may never know the philosophical differences between Cam Akers and McVay that occurred last year, but Cam seems to be the lead back this season. Hopefully he and the head coach have their philosophies align this year. Are you expecting a better running game this year? At a basic level I am, I would expect it has to improve from last year.

If it doesn’t I do not see how this team can be successful with Matthew Stafford dropping back and throwing it 40 times every game. I would think Stafford’s days as an unhinged gunslinger are behind him, but maybe he really is healthy and ready to show the league he’s still got what it takes to be the quarterback he’s always been: a tough QB with a cannon for an arm.

Please comment on anything you’d like below and have a great weekend!

Rams’ Sean McVay ‘Pleased With Progress’ In Run Game (fannation/ramsdigest)

“The Rams have averaged less than 100 rushing yards in each of the last two seasons, ranking near the bottom of the league on both occasions. The offense may have a larger focus on the air game than the ground, but the Rams’ struggles rushing the ball have cost them on multiple occasions.

This offseason, L.A. has been working to improve its lackluster running game. As the Rams prepare for their first preseason fame on Saturday, coach Sean McVay is happy with how the ground game has progressed.

“Like I said, there’s so many different ways to be able to run the football, but I’ve been pleased with the progress that I’ve seen,” McVay told reporters. “I think we’re doing a better job on both sides of the line of scrimmage kind of with the intent... I think (RB Coach) Ron Gould has done an excellent job with that group as a whole.”

In reality, the Rams’ improvements on the ground may have begun late last season. L.A. had three of its best rushing performances to close the season, averaging over 150 yards per game. Starting running back Cam Akers played a large role in the sudden turnaround, putting together one of the best stretches of his NFL career so far.

Akers returns as the top back this season, but with second-year back Karen Williams right behind him, he’ll have another quality option to spell him. Williams had his rookie season derailed by injuries, but is seemingly back to full strength and impressing at training camp. If the Rams can have a strong 1-2-punch in the backfield, it would go a long way towards improving the ground game.”

6 things to watch for in Rams’ preseason opener vs. Chargers (ramswire)

“From Stetson Bennett to Kobie Turner, their rookies will get a chance to prove themselves, while several veterans (so to speak) will try to improve their chances of being starters this season.

Keep an eye on these six things when the Rams take on the Chargers this weekend.

1 Stetson Bennett’s play from within the pocket

Bennett’s athleticism is well-documented. He excels outside the pocket and throwing on the run, which we saw throughout practice in training camp. What will be worth watching is how he performs from within the pocket, particularly on intermediate and deeper throws.

Will he be late throwing out routes against faster NFL defenders? Will he have the arm strength to drive the ball down the field on a post over the middle with the pocket collapsing? This will be an important performance as he continues to compete for the backup quarterback job.

2 Penalties and coverage busts

There are going to be some growing pains with this inexperienced team. That’s just the reality of the situation. With so many young players on the roster, mistakes are going to be made, and we’ll probably see a handful of them on Saturday night.

What Sean McVay doesn’t want to see is pre-snap penalties, busted coverages and missed blocks, particularly from players who are projected to be starters. False starts and illegal shifts will frustrate the coaching staff, as will things like neutral zone infractions and too many men on the field.

3 Wide receiver rotation

Cooper Kupp isn’t going to play in this game and there’s a good chance Van Jefferson won’t either. The rest of the receivers will get a lot of playing time and will have plenty to prove as a result. Tutu Atwell, Puka Nacua, Ben Skowronek and Demarcus Robinson are likely to be the first receivers up on Saturday, but how much each of them plays will be worth monitoring.

The same goes for the performances of Lance McCutcheon and Tyler Johnson, who are both squarely on the roster bubble.”

Rams Coach Sean McVay: ‘We All Love’ John Johnson (fannation/ramsdigest)

“Johnson’s best season of his career so far was with the Rams in 2018, as he recorded still-career highs in tackles (119), interceptions (four) and pass breakups (11). He was a major factor in their journey to the Super Bowl, as he hauled in the game-sealing interception in the infamous NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints.

Rams coach Sean McVay revealed what it’s been like having his safety back in Los Angeles.

“He’s got such a nice presence about himself,” McVay said during Thursday’s press conference. “Obviously, we all love ‘JJ’, but we’re just kind of in the early stages of getting him acclimated and hopefully we’ll get him more and more snaps.”

McVay explained that Johnson won’t be playing in Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers since he’s still getting accustomed. However, he may see the gridiron in the next preseason games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos.

Nevertheless, McVay said that Johnson is adapting to the Rams play style faster than most due to his experienced mentality.

“Well, he looks good,” McVay said. “He’s continuing to mature as a man. I thought he was always mature beyond his years, even when we got him as a rookie (in 2017) out of Boston College. He’s super smart and he has the ability to be able to play safety and dime (with the Rams).”

McVay said that Johnson donned the green dot in 2020. The green dot is a communication system put inside the helmet that allows a player (or two) to be the defensive signal caller. Under Johnson’s leadership, the Rams defense allowed the fewest points and yards per game in the NFL that season.

It’s unlikely that Johnson will wear the green dot this early, but McVay said that his “skillset” from his first tenure with the Rams “fits really well” with them now.”

Sean McVay dishes out truth on Cam Akers-led ground attack amid intriguing Rams training camp (clutchpoints)

“Like I said, there’s so many different ways to be able to run the football, but I’ve been pleased with the progress that I’ve seen,” Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters, according to an article from “I think we’re doing a better job on both sides of the line of scrimmage kind of with the intent. I think Ron Gould (Rams RB coach) has done an excellent job with that group as a whole.”

Cam Akers and the Rams run game really came on toward the end of last season, and it’s been a prominent off-season story line. Ever since the Rams were able to find success with it at the end of the season last year, people have wondered if it will be a bigger part of their game this season, and it seems like it will be.

Last season was not what Rams fans were expecting after winning the Super Bowl the year prior. Injuries created some issues, and things went downhill fast in LA. After finishing 5-12 in 2022, the Rams are hoping to get back to the level they were at in 2021 this season.”