Cam Akers had almost all of his 2021 season taken from him after he suffered a torn Achilles while training in July. It was a crushing blow for not only the Los Angeles Rams, but Akers himself.
He returned for the playoffs and helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI, but he wasn’t satisfied with the way he played. Entering Year 3, Akers has high expectations for himself and hopes to become the best running back in football – though not at the expense of the team winning.
Akers sat down with Rams Wire for a one-on-one interview on behalf of Sleep Number, discussing his goals for this season, the challenge of facing Aaron Donald and the Rams defense every day in practice, and more.
Have you set any personal expectations or goals for yourself this season?
Akers: “Definitely cementing myself as one of the better running backs in the league, No. 1 personally – besides winning. I want to win a Super Bowl so if me being No. 1 jeopardizes winning a Super Bowl, then I don’t want to be No. 1. Winning comes first.”
Are you hoping to get more chances to line up at wide receiver and catch passes this year?
Akers: “We’ll see. I hope so. I think so.”
Maybe throw a couple of passes since you were a former quarterback?
Akers: “You never know.”
What was the toughest part about your Achilles injury? The rehab itself? Itching to get on the field?
Akers: “Both. Fair share of both. Definitely had a great desire, great will to want to be back to help the team do whatever we needed to. Had great people around me to push me to get back, to set me up to get back. That being the Rams training staff, so it was a mixture of both.”
How do you feel you’ve changed as a running back since coming into the NFL, if at all?
Akers: “(The game has) 100% slowed down. The biggest adjustment is being very detailed. You know, definitely a detailed organization so I make sure I’m detailed in everything I do. Obviously, you can’t be perfect but trying to be as close to perfect as possible.”
Are there ever play calls where you hear the call, see the defense pre-snap and know it’s gonna be a big play?
Akers: “For sure. A few times. Obviously I haven’t had it as many times as I would like because I haven’t had a full year with Staff yet, but this year, I’m sure it’ll be a lot more.”
If there’s one area where you feel you can still improve, what is it?
Akers: “Furthering the detail. You can never be too detailed in this league. Details win games. There’ll be a little thing that will lose you a game, but a little thing that’ll win you a game, too. So that’s been my biggest thing. I’m healthy, I’m hungry, I feel good so just making sure I’m mentally all the way where I need to be.”
Is there a game on the schedule that you’ve circled this season?
Akers: “Just the next game up, the Buffalo Bills first. They got a good defense. We just got to prepare mentally. Physically, we have prepared so just excited to go out and put the work that we’ve been putting in and compete with another team.”
Is there a running back you grew up watching who inspired your style of play?
Akers: “I watched a lot of running backs. Frank Gore, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders. I can go on. A lot of people have played a part in my game or had an influence on my game somehow.”
What’s it like going up against one of the best defenses every day in practice?
Akers: “It prepares us for the toughest obstacle we could face in the league. No tougher obstacle you can face. Ultimately, it’s up to us to go out and do what we do. We go against the best defense every day. We know what to do, we know who we are. Just being us offensively and defensively.”
How tough does Aaron Donald make it for the offense in practice? How disruptive is he?
Akers: “Very, very, very disruptive. I’m not gonna lie to you. Like Sean said, we can barely get a play off, if we get a playoff. He’s that type of guy. If he don’t want you to get a play off, you’re not gonna get a play off. It’s just how it is.”
Can you tell me more about your partnership with Sleep Number?
Akers: “Talking about how much they’ve improved my sleep, as far as my recovery. Not only me, I’ve partnered with them, along with the entire team, the organization, the Rams. So a lot of my teammates use them as well. Just being able to recover and use the dual-temp, hot and cold topper. Just everything about it, the firmness, being able to make it harder, softer, everything about it helps me recover, allows me to play better. So sleep number’s been great for me these past six months. I’ve been in the league three years now, and it’s a big difference.”