Fri, 05 Mar 2021

Cam Akers and Van Jefferson finish rookie seasons strong

Los Angeles Rams
18 Jan 2021, 17:24 GMT+10

Stu Jackson

If Saturday's individual playoff performances are a sign of what's in store for the 2021 season, running back Cam Akers and wide receiver Van Jefferson should have Rams fans excited.

Akers posted 18 carries for 90 yards and one touchdown in Saturday's divisional playoff game against the Packers, with Jefferson adding six catches (on seven targets) for 48 yards and one touchdown to cap off their rookie seasons.

Excluding a 1-yard run by Goff, Akers owned the backfield Saturday afternoon - he was the only running back who received carries.

When the Rams needed an answer after their deficit grew to 13 following a 1-yard touchdown run by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they turned to Akers on four consecutive plays: All rushing attempts that gained a combined 33 yards and moved Los Angeles into Green Bay territory. The drive ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to Jefferson to make it a six-point game.

"I think I said it last week, and I've said it to him all season long: He's special," Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said postgame. "I look forward to watching him have a tremendous career, because the way he's wired, if he can stay healthy, he's going to be a different one for sure."

There was also the new wrinkle (for the Rams offense - Akers was a high school quarterback so this wasn't out of the ordinary) of direct snaps out of the wildcat formation. Akers had four; on the third, he ran seven yards into the endzone for a touchdown.

"The more that you can have the ball in Cam Akers' hands, we're in a good position," Rams head coach Sean McVay said.

From Week 12 of the regular season through the divisional round game against the Packers, Akers collectively finished the final eight games of his rookie season with 141 carries for 645 yards (good for 4.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.

As for Jefferson, a greater role in the wide receiver rotation has usually come via an injury to one of the members of his position group. In this case, it was Cooper Kupp being inactive against Green Bay due to a knee injury, and the afforded playing time snag those six catches, what would've been a season-high.

Of course, those efforts don't ease the sting of Saturday's playoff exit, but they do show signs of a promising future for both players.

"They're true pros," Rams safety John Johnson said postgame. "They're only going to get better. They had a couple of flashes this year. I'm excited to see what happens in the future for them."

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