Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay put it simply -- he wants to put the ball in his top playmakers’ hands as much as possible.
That’s why the Rams used rookie running back Cam Akers, a former standout quarterback during his high school days in Mississippi, at quarterback in the shotgun to run the Wildcat formation during L.A.’s NFC divisional playoff loss the Green Bay Packers.
“It shows my versatility and one of the many things I can do on the field,” Akers said about running the Wildcat formation. “I just have the ball in my hands and can see everything happening much faster.”
Akers ran it four times for 11 yards out of the Wildcat formation, including a 7-yard score. So overall, the formation was not a resounding success. But it did provide a glimpse of the different ways McVay can use the talented Akers next season, as he begins self-scouting the offense’s overall performance in 2020.
“When you look at it, Cam has done such a great job of really just continuing to become a big part and in some instances, the focal part of the offense,” McVay said, when asked about expanding the use of the Wildcat formation next season. “You can definitely build on that. I think you want to pick and choose your spots, but like I said, I think this guy has got an incredibly bright future.
“The more that the ball is in his hands -- usually good things happen. And we’ve seen that as of late. I think he really had a lot of good momentum and a lot of good performances that he can draw on to really build on this. I think it can be something for sure that we build on.”
A healthy Akers was a revelation for McVay and the Rams during the second half of the season. After dealing with a rib injury that limited his availability and production through the first half of the year, the Florida State product was one of the most productive backs though the backstretch of 2020 and in the postseason.
Akers finished with 748 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns during the regular season and added 276 total yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the playoffs.
At 5-11 and 211 pounds, Akers ran physical but also showed an ability to make defenders miss in space.
Veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth believes that Akers will emerge as one of the leaders on offensive for the Rams moving forward.
“He’s special,” Whitworth said. “He’s a special kid, with his heart and his passion, much less the talent. He’s one of those that, even as a rookie, his chatter, his talk and his belief in us and himself, and what we can do is really special.
“I look forward to him having tremendous growth here, because the way he’s wired, if he can stay healthy he’s going to be a different one for sure. … He’s going to be a guy that’s not only going to be a good football player, but I would imagine Cam Akers is going to be a leader on this football team very quickly.”
Akers now has the offseason to work physically and mentally to get better in the Rams’ scheme -- something he did not have during his rookie campaign -- to see if he can live up to Whitworth’s lofty expectations.
“I have a lot of confidence, not only in myself but the team,” Akers said. “Knowing the guys that we have and the way that we work, I just have full confidence that will be right back where we were.”