Rams rookie Cam Akers eager to learn and use the advice Todd Gurley gave him
The plan probably won’t be finalized until the end of training camp or perhaps a few games into the season.
Regardless, rookie running back Cam Akers said Tuesday that he would be comfortable with whatever role coach Sean McVay decides he should fill when the Rams open the season Sept. 13 against the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
And he is preparing like a player with NFL experience.
“I don’t approach each day like a newer guy,” he said during a videoconference with reporters. “I approach each day to try to get that feel of a vet, to try to learn and establish myself in the offense.
“So, that’s my approach every day, try to learn and get better. Hopefully, by the time September 13th rolls around, I’ll have everything rolling.”
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The Rams did not have a first-round pick in April’s draft, but they used their first selection to take Akers in the second round with the 52nd pick. He was the fourth running back drafted.
At Florida State, Akers rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and scored 34 touchdowns in three seasons.
Now he is competing for carries with veteran Malcolm Brown, second year-pro Darrell Henderson and third-year pro John Kelly.
Quarterback Jared Goff and other Rams offensive players have said they are confident the group will provide the team with a solid rushing attack.
But replacing Gurley is a huge issue.
Gurley’s balky left knee slowed him for parts of the last two seasons, but in 2019 he still rushed for 857 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. Less than two years after giving Gurley a $60-million extension, the Rams in March released the three-time Pro Bowl player.
A month later, they drafted Akers.
Gurley, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons, reached out to Akers after the draft and offered advice.
“Work hard,” Akers said Gurley told him, “And pass protect.”
Akers participated in the Rams’ virtual offseason program and has gone through more than a week of the training camp acclimation phase, which includes team meetings, physical conditioning and walk-throughs. The Rams begin practice next week.
Once the young upstart who made the Rams’ roster as an undrafted free agent, Brown is now the veteran of the running backs group.
Akers said he was learning from running backs coach Thomas Brown and also Malcolm Brown, a sixth-year pro.
Akers and Henderson, a third-round pick in 2019, both grew up in Mississippi and played high school football against each other. Now that they are teammates, their relationship has grown.
“When I got here, we started to bond, we started to mesh,” Akers said.
McVay is eager to see Akers, a former high school quarterback, in a full-speed setting. On the day the Rams drafted Akers, McVay noted the running back’s passing skills on a trick play at Florida State.
This week, he said Akers could possibly be used in Wildcat formations or as an emergency quarterback.
“He hasn’t been shy about telling me he can still spin it,” McVay said.
Said Akers: “If he ever wants to use me for it, I’m ready.”
But Akers’ primary focus is earning a role as a running back — in a featured or supporting role.
“Whatever coach McVay thinks is the best option for the team, that’s what we are going to roll with,” he said, “and we are going to do to it 100 miles per hour.”
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