With only young guys in backfield, Rams could be in running for help in draft

 Rams running back Cam Akers runs against the Arizona Cardinals during a game in December.
Cam Akers established himself as a more than capable running back in his rookie season, except that he missed time because of injuries.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 7 of 8: Running backs

The breakout performance came late in Cam Akers’ rookie season with the Rams.

Last December, Akers rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown in 29 carries in a victory over the New England Patriots. A month later, he rushed for 131 yards and touchdown in 28 carries in an NFC wild-card playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Akers then rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries in a divisional-round defeat to the Green Bay Packers.


Akers, a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, is on track to be the featured back in the upcoming season.

“Cam hit his stride at the right moments,” coach Sean McVay told reporters, adding that the Rams expect the 21-year-old Akers, “to pick up where he left off.”

Akers leads a position group that includes third-year pro Darrell Henderson and second-year pros Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais.

Thomas Brown returns for his second season as running backs coach, and also assumes the role of assistant head coach.

Henderson, 23, is coming off a second consecutive season that ended because of an ankle injury. The 2019 third-round pick appeared on track to start last season, but was sidelined during training camp because of a hamstring injury. Akers started the first two games, but after the rookie suffered a rib injury in the second game, Henderson came on and started 11 games. He rushed for 624 yards and five touchdowns before suffering the ankle injury.

Jones, an undrafted free agent, played in 13 games on special teams. Calais, a seventh-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who was waived before the 2020 season, returned kickoffs in four games.

Quarterbacks are expected to be the first three picks of the NFL draft for the first time since 1999 with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence taken No. 1 overall.

April 19, 2021


Under contract for 2021: Akers ($1.4 million), Henderson ($1.2 million), Jones ($783,000), Calais ($780,000).

Free agents: The Rams stood pat and did not sign any free agents to fortify the backfield. They could pursue a veteran after the draft.

Draft: The Rams drafted Henderson in the third round in 2019 and Akers in the second round in 2020, so recent history suggests the Rams could use a mid- or late-round pick to take another back.

Roster decisions: Akers and Henderson appear set to contribute. Jones’ and Calais’ status will depend on whether the Rams draft a running back or sign a veteran free agent.

NEXT: Quarterbacks