Injuries plagued the Rams' running backfield throughout 2021, and they might do the same in 2022. With just over three weeks until the start of the season, both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles' top two ball-carriers, are battling soft-tissue injuries with no timetable for return. That's what coach Sean McVay told reporters Monday, suggesting the team will be cautious in welcoming the veterans back to practice ahead of Sept. 8's regular-season opener.
Neither Akers nor Henderson will return to the field until they're at "full speed," McVay said, per ESPN, and it's unclear when that will be: "The first goal for those guys is, let's check the box on them feeling like they can really open up. No restrictions. I don't know if you ever really feel great at any point moving forward, especially at running back, but we want to be smart with that."
A second-round draft pick of the team in 2020, Akers missed all but one game, plus the playoffs, last season after tearing his Achilles prior to training camp. With 2021 trade acquisition Sony Michel signing with the Dolphins this spring, Akers was widely expected to emerge as the Rams' No. 1 option this season. McVay himself recently singled out Akers as a frontrunner for an expanded running game, which has been a "big point of emphasis" for the offense this summer.
Henderson, who's started 21 games the last two years, has his own injury history, finishing all three of his NFL seasons on injured reserve. The 2019 third-rounder suffered a high-ankle sprain in 2020 and an MCL sprain late in 2021, though he did return for the Rams' Super Bowl win. He's topped 600 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons, and figures to serve as the top complement to Akers in the backfield.
In the absence of Akers and Henderson, 2021