Where there is Cam Akers, there once was Lamar Miller.
Watching the Los Angeles Rams suddenly scrambling to find a No. 1 running back in the wake of their star suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, the Houston Texans can empathize. Because in 2019, they too lost their workhorse runner when Miller suffered a torn ACL in an August preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he rushed for 973 yards and five touchdowns, Miller took an innocent-looking handoff but was hit directly on his left knee by Cowboys' lineman Maliek Collins. After his leg bent at a gruesome angle, he landed awkwardly, writhed in pain and ... hasn't carried the ball in an NFL game since.
The Texans eventually released Miller, and he appeared in only one game with the Chicago Bears last season.
Not that the Rams' season is derailed, because almost every team in the league can relate to having its grand plans re-routed even before the first snap of the season. In fact, the Texans in 2019 quickly traded for running back Carlos Hyde from the Kansas City Chiefs. Behind his 1,000-yard rushing season and the Pro Bowl play of quarterback DeShaun Watson, Houston finished 10-6, won the AFC South and beat the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs.
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Akers, a shifty scatback drafted in the second round out of Florida State in 2020, was expected to be the focal point of the Rams' running game again this season after his breakout rookie campaign when he averaged 113 yards over the final seven games. In 13 games, Akers was the Rams' leading rusher with 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
But now, before commencing training camp, the Rams are scurrying for a running back to star in the same backfield with newly acquired quarterback Matt Stafford.
And other teams around the league are also already negotiating running back injuries, including the San Francisco 49ers and Jeff Wilson (potentially out until Week 7 after knee surgery) and the New York Giants and Saquon Barkley (still recovering from last season's torn ACL with no definite timetable for a return).
This type of early injury isn't new to the Rams organization. In a 1999 preseason game against the Chicago Bears, starting quarterback Trent Green was sacked and suffered torn knee ligaments.
His replacement? Fellow named Kurt Warner.
The Texans host the Rams on Halloween.