The Rams could be getting some unexpected help for the playoffs and that help might be coming in the form of running back Cam Akers. According to NFL.com, Akers has been designated for return off of injured reserve, which means the team now has a window of 21 days to move him to the active roster.
If Akers does return this year, it would be a total surprise and that’s because it was believed that he was going to be out for the season after tearing his Achilles back in July. Akers was slotted to be the Rams’ starting running back this year, but that job went to Darrell Henderson after Akers went down with his injury.
After Akers went down, the Rams went on the search for some additional running back depth, which led to the team acquiring Sony Michel in an August trade with the Patriots. If Akers is back on the field, that will give the Rams three talented running backs in their offense.
On average, it takes most NFL players roughly nine months to get back on the field after an Achilles injury, which is one reason why it’s so shocking that Akers might return so soon. The running back’s injury happened back in mid-July and if he’s back on the field for the playoffs, that would put his recovery time at just six months.
On the other hand, maybe we should have seen this coming and that’s because Rams coach Sean McVay hinted in late October that the team was hoping Akers might be able to return this season.
“You don’t want to be presumptuous, but if we are able to make the playoffs and give ourselves a chance to play after (the regular season), the expectation is that Cam would be available to play,” McVay said at the time. “He’s on track to do that. He was running at 80 percent body weight at 10 miles per hour pretty effortlessly, and from the cameras that I saw last week that are kind of right behind his feet on the treadmill, unless you saw the scar you wouldn’t notice any sort of hitch in his giddy-up on that. He’s attacking the rehab the right way.”
As recently as November, Akers was sharing videos on social media that showed just how well his rehab was going.
“He’s doing great. I think the plan is, if we’re able to play past the regular season, we’ll get Cam back this year and he’ll be playing in the playoffs,” McVay said in October.
The fact that the Rams activated Akers now lines up with McVay’s hopes. If they wait the entire 21-day window, that means they’d activate him on Thursday, Jan. 13. The wild-card round of the playoffs will run from Jan. 15 thru 17 this year.
With Akers now designated to return, the Rams can get him back in practice for the next three weeks, which will allow him to work his way back into football shape in time for the postseason. If Akers doesn’t suffer any after-effects from his injury, then it won’t be surprising to see him on the field in the wild-card round, which would be a huge boost for an already loaded Rams offense.