THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Whether carrying the ball or making a lightning-fast recovery from a torn Achilles tendon, Cam Akers’ brief NFL career has been all about getting places in a hurry.
So when Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said last week that he wanted more urgency from his top running back, the football world was surprised — and so was Akers, it turns out.
But Akers is taking in stride McVay’s callout and his lack of playing time in the Rams’ season-opening blowout loss to Buffalo. Akers got just three carries for no yards.
“If Coach don’t think I’m being urgent enough, just be more urgent,” Akers said Wednesday. “That’s what it came down to. … Whatever Coach says, man, I’m going to take it in and learn from it. Whatever you want to say, I’m going to take it and learn from it and go from there, whether I think it’s right or not. Maybe I’m not always right, you know?”
Receiver Allen Robinson also isn’t at all concerned about his lack of involvement in the Rams’ offense during a 31-10 defeat that felt bigger than any one player’s problems.
Los Angeles’ only major free-agent addition on offense caught just one pass on two targets from Matthew Stafford. Robinson had only one previous game in his entire nine-year NFL career in which he was targeted fewer times — and that was the Jaguars’ 2017 opener in which he incurred a season-ending knee injury early in the first quarter.
“Everybody wants to get opportunities,” Robinson said. “At the same time, some of the ways (Buffalo) played us and all that, it’s tough to (be involved). I just tried to do what I can do and maximize my opportunities.”
The Rams are only 0-1, so they’ve got time to come up with better ways to get two of their biggest offensive talents more involved, starting when Atlanta visits on Sunday.
They can hardly do much worse: Los Angeles managed only 243 yards on 66 plays in its first game since the Super Bowl win. The Rams’ inability to get the ball in the hands of Akers or Robinson was quite conspicuous, with only All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp and running back Darrell Henderson got consistent touches.
Robinson understands why it happened and expects better days ahead.
“In some games, that’s how it goes sometimes,” Robinson said, noting the Bills’ defensive scheme often left him on the back side of Stafford’s progression — which wasn’t the place to be when Stafford was sacked seven times and hit 15 times. “This week, we just need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we can get better.”
McVay’s words about Akers got plenty of attention, both because of their surprising target and because McVay rarely says anything even moderately negative about any Rams in public. Akers said his conversation with McVay about urgency occurred several weeks ago in camp, and McVay reiterated his belief in Akers on Wednesday.
“I think because I’m naturally such a positive guy, if I say anything that can be taken, I don’t want to say out of context, but can be taken in a direction where I’m challenging somebody, it’s a result of my confidence in him and the expectations we have and what we need him to be,” McVay said. “So I love Cam. I want him to be able to be a guy that we’re heavily able to lean on, both him and Darrell.”
Urgency has often been Akers’ strength on the field and in recovery: He came back from his Achilles injury in less than six months because he wanted to win the Super Bowl. That’s exactly what he did after rushing for 172 yards and catching eight passes in the postseason.
Akers had plenty of time to watch the Rams’ offense from the sideline, and he saw “a lot” of areas in which it needs immediate improvement.
“I don’t want to get into details or specifics, but we’ve got a lot to work on offensively as a team, and defensively, too,” Akers said. “We’re not there yet. We’re trying to get there.”
NOTES: LT Joseph Noteboom, C Brian Allen, WR Van Jefferson and LS Matt Orzech all missed practice with injuries, while LB Leonard Floyd was limited by a knee injury. Allen will miss Sunday’s game, and Jefferson seems highly unlikely to play since he hasn’t practiced since knee surgery early in training camp. The Rams are currently expecting Noteboom to play. … McVay confirmed that his starting right guard will be Tremayne Anchrum, who has three total offensive snaps of experience in his three NFL seasons. McVay believes in the Clemson product because of his work in practice and in the preseason: “I think he’s earned the right. I have true confidence in him.”
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