Cam Akers Headlines Rams’ Running Back Depth Chart, But Don’t Sleep On Kyren Williams

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kyren williams

In today’s NFL, you don’t need a star running back to win a Super Bowl.

The Rams are the latest example of that. Los Angeles ranked 25th in rushing yards in 2021, but first in winning Vince Lombardi trophies.

Running backs are like aspiring actors in California. They are everywhere. Unfortunately, just like actors, most only get a chance when they’re still young. 

The Rams depth chart at running back features a few interchangeable parts and a lot of guys who need to stay healthy. Los Angeles has a new running backs coach for 2022 in Ra’shaad Samples who comes over after serving as run game coordinator at TCU. Former Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown has moved over to tight ends.

Here’s who Samples has to work with and what they bring to the table.

Cam Akers

Akers was one of the best stories in the Super Bowl run. He popped his Achilles tendon over the summer before training camp, had surgery and was somehow able to return in time for the last regular season game. (Something to do with a smaller incision point).

Akers didn’t exactly show the zip he had in his rookie year, which included a 171-yard performance against the Patriots, and then he almost cost the Rams in the playoffs with those two fumbles against the Buccaneers (Let’s not talk about that). 

In the playoffs, he was steady, nothing more. The Rams use him in the passing game some. He may be the de factor No. 1 back for now, but that isn’t saying much.

Kyren Williams

Williams, a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, has a lot going for him entering Rams training camp in 2022.

One, he’s never been hurt at the professional level.

Two, he fits exactly what the Rams look for in a running back.

Williams is a good in-between the tackles runner who ran for 1,002 yards with the Fighting Irish last year. He grew up a Rams fan in St. Louis and played slot receiver in high school.

With a good camp, don’t be surprised to see him emerge as the lead ball carrier.

Darrell Henderson Jr.

At some point the Rams may look at Henderson and just give up. He’s a powerful runner entering the last year of his contract who has averaged 4.6 yards a carry.

But he can not stay healthy.

Maybe it’s his high-contact style, but Henderson has never played a full season in the NFL without spending time on injured reserve. Running backs are too plentiful in the NFL and guys who get labeled as injury prone don’t last.

Jake Funk

Speaking of injuries, Funk had an injury-marred college career at Maryland, but was a Rams seventh-round choice in 2020. Last year he played in 10 games and had two rushes for five yards. He’s probably more a of fullback type on a team that doesn’t really use a fullback.

He suffered a torn hamstring in the Week 6 game against the New York Giants and went on injured reserve.

Xavier Jones

At SMU, Jones was Mr. Touchdown. Jones led the nation in scoring as a senior in 2019 and finished his career with 48 touchdowns.

He managed to squeeze his way on to the roster after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He made a few tackles on special teams, but never had a carry. He missed all last season with an injury. The Rams probably still don’t know what they have yet in Mr. Touchdown. This may be his last chance to prove it.

Buddy Howell

Howell is your classic guy-in-the-back-of-the-room who doesn’t do any one thing well, but does everything OK. The Rams got him from the Texans practice squad at the start of the 2021 season and gave him five carries for 11 yards. He’s another special teams asset who also returned two kickoffs in 2021. 

Raymond Calais

Calais was a pleasant surprise in 2020 when the Rams picked him off the waiver wire from Tampa Bay. He was serviceable on kickoff returns (seven for a 21.7-yard average).

Then he missed the 2021 season with a foot injury and even spent some time on the COVID list. He’s fighting for his football life now.