Cam Akers feeling '100%' and ready to step up in Los Angeles Rams' offense

Why Damien Woody believes the Rams can defend their NFC title (1:02)

Damien Woody breaks down how players such as Allen Robinson and Cam Akers will be crucial to helping the Rams defend their title. (1:02)

IRVINE, Calif. -- Cam Akers looked out at the practice field and smiled.

The Los Angeles Rams running back missed all of training camp a year ago after tearing his Achilles in mid-July, requiring surgery and rehab before his teammates reported to the team's training facility at UC Irvine.

And although Akers recovered very quickly from the Achilles injury, coming back in less than six months in time to play in the regular season finale and during the Rams' Super Bowl-winning playoff run, he said in a news conference he doesn't take "the dog days" of training camp for granted.

"Just to be out here with the team, man, it feels good," Akers said. "Just to have that camaraderie that I missed out on last year, going through the camp.

"I missed it. You know when you take a year off, almost a year -- it felt like a year, you miss everything about it, the small [things], the hard days, the easy days, good, bad. I'm just happy to be out here."

A year ago, Akers was poised to take the next step in Sean McVay's offense after rushing for 625 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2020, and the former second-round pick said he's "100%" ready to make up for lost time.

"Whether it's runs, passes, screens, whatever I need to do," Akers said. "Whenever my number's called, whether it's from the slot, the outside receiver to the backfield, I'll be ready, whatever it is."

As Akers goes through training camp, McVay said he sees Akers "getting more and more comfortable," and he's seen "some positive steps with him." Akers said he's "caught up to speed" on the playbook and conditioning.

"He's so talented, it's just about the game slowing down for him," McVay said. "Being able to recognize if he's used in protection. All right, if I'm getting out free, how do I make sure if there's any sort of foot traffic not to climb up on the offensive lineman's heels and be able to get out clean on some of my check downs? Being able to read out the runs the right way in terms of where his eye progression starts."

During the first week of training camp practices, the Rams have been rotating in Akers and fourth-year back Darrell Henderson Jr., who ran for 688 yards and five touchdowns last season while splitting time with Sony Michel, who is now with the Miami Dolphins. McVay said Saturday that he thinks the Akers-Henderson combination has worked well.

"I look at it as we've got two starting backs," McVay said. "Those guys are great complements of one another, but I see them as both starting-caliber players. We need to get them involved. They need to be on the field. I think it's healthy for them to be able to supplement one another."

McVay is also high on running backs Jake Funk and Kyren Williams, a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame. Williams broke his foot during a practice this spring and needed surgery. McVay said he expects Williams, who started training camp on the PUP list, to be back on the field around the time of the Rams' joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, which is scheduled prior to their preseason matchup August 27.

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen said the coaching staff is still trying to figure out how to best use both Akers and Henderson and that rotating them during training camp was "part of our plan this whole time" because it gives the coaching staff a "a great opportunity to see what those guys do well" in both the run and pass game.

"They're different backs," Coen said. "...What can we do to really accentuate both of these guys' skill sets when they are on the field?"

Coen said he noticed from Akers' "first rep of training camp" how focused the running back has been, saying Akers is "obviously determined to be healthy and do all the right things" this season.

"I expect me to play at a much higher level," Akers said. "I just want to go out, get myself the best chance ... to perform, do what I do best and that’s make plays. Whether that's in the film room, whether that's in the training room, I don't know.

"Whatever it is, I'm putting my best foot forward."