The Rams got three rushing touchdowns from Cam Akers and two interceptions from rookie cornerback Cobie Durant on Sunday to conclude the home portion of their schedule with a dominant 51-14 victory against the Denver Broncos. Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next for Akers and the Rams (5-10) with two games left in the 2022 season:
AKERS A PART OF RAMS’ 2023 PLANS?
Akers’ future with the Rams might no longer be murky after he delivered another standout performance on Sunday.
Akers has scored six rushing touchdowns in the past four games and averaged more than 5 yards per carry against the Broncos and Green Bay Packers.
With Akers’ late-season surge, Rams coach Sean McVay hinted Monday that Akers will probably be a part of the team’s 2023 plans.
Earlier this season, Akers was sent home for nearly a month because of disagreements with McVay and missed two games while the team attempted to trade him. After failing to move him before the league-wide trade deadline, the two sides decided to make it work for the rest of the season.
McVay was asked if the team had plans to trade Akers in the offseason. The 2020 second-round pick from Florida State has one more year left on his rookie deal.
“I think right now with what he’s done, and continuing to build on that momentum, I think it’d be silly based on what a great job he’s done to think of it anything differently than him being a big part of what you want to be able to do moving forward,” McVay said. “But you just take it a day at a time. But that’s certainly something that we’ve worked through and there’s totally a different trajectory in terms of what he’s done and the way that he’s handled himself and the way that he’s playing like we know he’s capable of.
“Hopefully you just continue to see him build on it these last couple weeks and into next year for the Rams.”
Akers, who had a slow start to the season, credited his mental preparation and practice habits for his late-season turnaround.
“Even with some troubles early on, I always knew who I was,” Akers said. “That’s not going to change no matter what obstacle is put in the way.”
ABOUSHI GETS ONE-GAME SUSPENSION
Rams offensive guard Oday Aboushi and Broncos outside linebacker Randy Gregory were each suspended one game for violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness rules due to a post-game altercation, the league announced Monday morning.
McVay said the team will appeal the decision. Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein called the ruling unfair for Aboushi because Gregory threw the first punch while Aboushi attempted to walk away.
Aboushi, however, retaliated by also throwing a punch. Havenstein was nearby to break up the skirmish between the two players.
“Yeah, I saw what happened,” Havenstein said. “Personally, I don’t think Oday is in the wrong. He got hit first, tried to walk away. … I don’t think it was fair to have the same (punishment) for what happened and how it transpired. I think the video is pretty clear. He was walking away and he was being pursued.”
McVAY REACTS TO HACKETT FIRING
Nathaniel Hackett was fired as head coach of the Denver Broncos the morning after the embarrassing loss to the Rams.
Hackett was in the midst of his first season as a head coach and was let go after a 4-11 start with Denver. McVay referred to Hackett as a friend and called him a great coach.
“Nate is a friend of mine,” McVay said Monday. “It’s a tough part of this business and it’s why you never take anything for granted. Nate’s a great coach. If there’s anything that this year has taught me, I don’t think you can ever let one year or a small inventory of circumstances define your self-worth and who you are as a coach, and he’ll be back on his feet and have a lot of success in this league like he’s had.
“It’s one of those deals, tough times don’t last, tough people do and I know Nate Hackett is a tough guy.”
Hackett had plenty of success as the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers between 2019 to 2021. He’s the son of former USC football coach Paul Hackett.
The Rams’ New Year’s Day matchup with the Chargers will be a reunion of sorts. Chargers coach Brandon Staley was McVay’s defensive coordinator with the Rams in 2020.
Staley was instrumental in turning the Rams’ defense into one of the best units in the league that season. He’s now having success with Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who is best friends with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“I think it’s a great challenge,” McVay said about facing the Chargers on Sunday as the road team at SoFi Stadium. “You guys know the amount of respect that I have for (Staley) as a football mind and as a football coach. You can see that they’ve done a great job putting themselves in legitimate playoff contention and they’re great in crunch time moments.”