With the 31-10 loss the Rams suffered at the hands of the Bills, there came a lot of questions. And chief among them was queries about why some players didn't contribute as much as expected. One such mystery involved running back Cam Akers, who only had three carries on the night for zero yards, nowhere close to the load he was expected to bear in games this season.
The Rams did start the season with four running backs on the roster, and seemed to want to spread out the carries in Thursday's opener. Darrell Henderson got the start, and took on the bulk of the rushing duties, finishing with 13 carries for 47 yards. He and Akers are both listed as first-team on the Los Angeles depth chart, but only one of them got the expected amount of touches befitting that role.
Coach Sean McVay said after the game that he had wanted to get players like Akers more opportunities in the game, something that he wasn't able to make happen after the team "didn't get in much of a rhythm." But speaking to the media Friday McVay also said he thought Akers needed to maximize his chances when he did take snaps.
"Yeah, I think that's what we expect from all of our guys. No matter who you're talking about, you want to see guys do the little things the right way, compete with him without the ball," McVay said, via the team transcripts. "There were some instances where there were some positive things and some things that he can do better. But do want to see just an increased level of urgency and accountability snap in and snap out from him."
Akers was expected to have a sizable role in the offense this season, despite missing most of 2021 with a torn Achilles. Akers had led the Rams in rushing yards in his rookie year in 2020, and despite missing all but one regular season game last year, he came back and played a significant role in Los Angeles' Super Bowl run. So the Rams know he can play at a high level, he just needs to tap into that potential.
And Los Angeles might need Akers to figure things out sooner rather than later, as one of their other promising running backs, rookie Kyren Williams, will be out 6-8 weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain on a kick return Thursday, his first play of the evening.
McVay emphasized that Akers is still young and has stuff to learn and improve upon, but he believes with continued work the 23-year-old can still be one of the best running back options for the team.
"I know what Cam is capable of. We've all seen how talented and what a special player this guy's capable of being. I want to see him reach his highest potential and that's really all there is to it. It's not about anything other than when he and Darrell are playing at a high level, I feel really good about those two guys at running back for us," McVay said. "I know what he can be and I'm confident that he'll be that guy that we've all seen at the right moments as this season continues to progress and that's our job to help get it out of him."