Cam Akers immediately called his mother after he tore the Achilles tendon in July. He spent most of the next two days crying.
The Los Angeles Rams running in back, then dried his eyes. He made a plan.
“It was always my goal, if I was able to, to come back for the playoffs,” Akers said Thursday in his first public comments on his recovery.
Akers set this extraordinary goal after suffering an injury that can often keep him out of action for several months. Akers achieved it ahead of schedule when he played in last weekend’s regular-season finale for the Rams. He’ll be back in uniform Monday night as Los Angeles hosts the Arizona Cardinals (11-6), in the first playoff match in SoFi Stadium’s history.
Akers was a self-described “shockingly unhappy” person 5 1/2 months ago when he discovered something was not right during a private training camp workout. “100%”He was at the end of his second NFL-season.
No one would be surprised if Akers took a year to complete a normal, planned rehabilitation of a sometimes complicated injury.
But Akers doesn’t want to wait.
“I want to win the Super Bowl,”He stated.
Akers attributes his recovery to hard work and the support of the Rams. However, he also acknowledges the identity crisis that many young elite athletes experience after their first major injury setback.
Akers stated that his main motivation for his rehab was to help others. “the fear of not being able to be me. That was something that kept me up for three months.”
“The fear of not coming back the same me was all the motivation I needed,”Akers was added. “There’s no feeling sorry for yourself at that point. I had to retrain my mind, retrain my thought process and just attack. Cut a lot of the outside noise off, a lot of the outside people, and just go for what you know.”
Akers and his rehab team saw Akers’ progress in strength and mobility only one month after he had started. Akers was not rushed by the Rams, but they were supportive of Akers’ desire to be a late-season boost for the Rams’ playoff hopes.
Sean McVay, coach, praised Akers for his work ethic and hailed his return to the team earlier this month. Akers knows he wasn’t alone in his efforts.
“To come back from something so fast, to do something that’s never been done, is a blessing,” Akers said. “That’s just a testament to the way I work and the team we have. Our training staff did such an amazing job mapping out a plan and making sure I followed it to a T, making sure every day I came in with a purpose, and I made it happen.”
Akers was the Rams’ leading rusher as a rookie last season, and he was expected to be their starter this year until his injury. He was unable to play due to injury so the Rams traded him for Sony Michel. Darrell Henderson was injured down the stretch and Darrell Henderson is now their No. 1 ball-carrier.
Akers rushed five times and caught three passes last weekend against the 49ers for 13 yards. Although his return was not prolific, it was enough to inspire confidence in Akers and his team that this amazing comeback is possible.
“I just can’t tell you how proud I am of that guy,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “It’s an unbelievable feat that he’s been able to just be available in any regard, and he looks as good as he ever looked. I think it was big for him to get out there, get some reps. We’re obviously looking for more of him as he continues to get healthy.”
NOTES: S Taylor Rapp (concussion protocol), and LB Leonard Floyd were both absent from practice on Thursday, as the Rams started their week of field preparation. CB Darious Williams (shoulder), was a full participant and it doesn’t seem to have been as severe as originally thought. Stafford’s injury to his right foot (toe), was not limited in practice and won’t impact him Monday. McVay stated that Stafford’s mobility was restricted down the stretch against the Niners last week.