The Rams seemed to find an excellent running back for their backfield late in the 2020 NFL season when Cam Akers performed well down the stretch.
Akers, a second-round rookie, got off to a slow start during his first season but gained ground as the year progressed. He finished the season with a total of 221 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the team’s two playoff games, and that inspired optimism that he could be a three-down rusher for the team in 2022.
Akers then suffered a devastating injury during his preparation for the 2021 NFL season. He ruptured his Achilles tendon and it seemed inevitable that he would miss the season and would look to build on his success in 2022.
However, Akers has made a remarkable recovery from his injury. Now, he’s back on the field and playing a small role for the Rams as they look to win a playoff game for the third time in the past four seasons.
How did Akers come back from injury so quickly? This is the story of his incredible return to action for the Rams.
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What was Cam Akers’ injury?
Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles tendon while preparing for Rams training camp. On July 20, it was announced that he would undergo surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon and that it would sideline him for the entire 2021 NFL season.
Akers rushed for 625 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie and emerged as the Rams’ top running back at season’s end. He was expected to be the team’s clear number 1 in 2021 before suffering the injury.
How did Cam Akers get back into the Rams’ lineup so quickly?
Historically, Achilles injuries have handicapped athletes for the long term. The average recovery time to return to sport is four to 12 months, for Dr Laurence Knott, but in general, recovery for professional athletes has tended to take nine to 12 months. And those who came back early were often not the same players they were when they first came down.
However, the treatment process for a torn Achilles tendon has changed. In particular, the way in which it is treated surgically has been modified to optimize recovery time, as detailed yahoo sports.
Whereas the procedure previously required a 3- to 5-inch incision in the back of the calf, few orthopedic surgeons still insist on a completely unobstructed view of the tendon in order to sew it back up. Many now pass stitches through much smaller incisions to reduce wound healing time and limit the threat of infection and other complications.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed surgery on Akers and repaired the tendon so the Rams running back could move early. That included 10 days of toe curls, range-of-motion exercises, blood-flow restriction therapy and exercises on an anti-gravity treadmill the Rams set up at Akers’ home. That led him to ditch his walking boot just a month after surgery.
“When we saw him walk normally that fast, we all started looking at each other,” Rams vice president of sports medicine and performance Reggie Scott told Yahoo Sports. “That’s when we got the feeling that he had a chance to come back before the season was over.”
Akers managed to do just that. He played in Week 18 against the 49ers, serving as a backup behind Sony Michel and carrying the ball five times for three yards. The numbers weren’t great, but for Akers, getting back on the field was a “blessing” after the way he attacked his rehab.
“The fear of never being the same again was all the motivation I needed,” Akers said. according to Rams.com. “The fear of not coming back or being better than before I was hurt. Without feeling sorry [for] at that time, just two days later. So I had to retrain my mind, retrain my thought process, and just attack. [the process].”
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Cam Akers injury timeline
— July 20, 2021: Akers suffers a torn Achilles tendon while training for the 2021 NFL season. The Rams running back reportedly will miss the season because of it.
— December 26, 2021: The Rams surprisingly activate Akers from IR after designating him to come back. It is believed that this move is being made to give Akers a pension credit for the season even though he hasn’t played for the Rams.
— December 28, 2021: Coach Sean McVay announces that Akers might get a chance to play. for the Rams during the final two weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
“He’s earned the right to be on this list and it looks like there’s a chance he could contribute as early as this week in the field,” McVay said, per ESPN.
— January 9, 2022: Akers plays in Week 18 just 5 1/2 months after originally suffering a torn Achilles tendon. He rushes for three yards on five carries against the 49ers and serves as a backup running back behind Sony Michel.
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Rams RB Depth Chart
Akers is currently listed as the Rams’ No. 2 running back. Had Darrell Henderson been healthy, the Rams could have used Akers as the No. 3 running back while recovering from injury, but Henderson is out 3-5 weeks with a sprained MCL. While he’s gone, Akers will back Sony Michel.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.