Last summer, after a torn Achilles was supposed to have put Cam Akers out for the entire season, Akers made a vow to new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford: he'd beat the odds and make it back to the lineup if the team could buy him some extra recovery time by reaching the postseason.
Stafford couldn't say what he was thinking.
"I remember him telling me, 'You guys make it to the playoffs and I'll be back,'" Stafford said, per The Associated Press. "I just thought to myself, what a great mindset to have. There's no chance in hell he's going to be back helping us out."
Akers has not only made good on the promise, he did Stafford one better by returning to action in the last week of the regular season. An injury that often requires nine to 12 months of recovery shelved Akers for less than six.
"I can't think of another injury comeback situation that I've ever been around that's even close," Stafford said.
In his season debut, Akers got eight touches in the Rams' Jan. 9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, he's re-emerged in the playoffs as a regular in the Rams' backfield. It will culminate with Sunday's Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, and a chance for Akers to make a glorious finish out of what began as a lost season.
"I could have been very well not playing in it," Akers said. "So I just feel so blessed to be able to be here physically and be able to contribute. Not many people would even be dressing out or even be on the sideline. So I just feel blessed and highly favored."
Akers injured his Achilles in a July workout while preparing for training camp, and underwent surgery to repair the tendon. The Rams turned to a combination of Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel, whom they acquired in an August trade from the New England Patriots, to replace their second-year standout. Meanwhile, Akers' rehab progressed at a startling rate. He was jogging within a couple months, and Stafford recalls cringing -- worried Akers was pushing his rehab too hard -- when he saw him jumping rope for the first time since surgery.
"It was probably like three months when I knew (returning to play) was a possibility," Akers said. "That's when I would say I knew I was working to come back for this season."
Akers has piled up 54 carries in the postseason, and figures to add quite a few more on Sunday.
Whatever he can contribute, it will be more than his quarterback ever thought possible.