What Does Cam Akers Do for Vikings?
The Minnesota Vikings started their 2023 NFL regular season with consecutive losses. Rather than idly wondering what happened, the organization decided to do something about it. Dalton Risner was brought in for the offensive line, and Cam Akers has now been acquired for the backfield. What does he bring to the table, though?
What Does Cam Akers Do for Vikings?
When the Minnesota Vikings 2022 season concluded, it was all but guaranteed that Dalvin Cook would not be back with the team in 2023. While still a productive runner, although even that was waning, his cap hit simply wasn’t going to work. With Alexander Mattison returning to be the lead back, there was hope continuity would be established. That hasn’t happened, and now Cam Akers is here to steal his touches.
Kevin O’Connell is significantly familiar with Akers after their time with the Los Angeles Rams. A Super Bowl champion with the Rams, Akers has sprinkled in starts over his four years in the NFL. Working as the lead back five times as a rookie and then nine times last year, he has more experience in the role than Mattison.
A season ago, Akers racked up 786 yards on 188 carries, good for a 4.2 yards per carry average. He is a decent pass-catching option out of the backfield, having 35 targets to his name, but that role still seems best ticketed for Myles Gaskin with Minnesota. Akers should also bring a competitive fire to the Vikings after being cast aside in Los Angeles. Drawing the start for Week 1 before being inactive in Week 2, he has something to prove.
What the Vikings hope to gain in Akers is something they didn’t see from Mattison. It’s not entirely on the shoulders of their current runner, especially given how weak the interior offensive line is. However, Mattison owns a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry and simply wasn’t getting it done. The Vikings have one of the worst rushing attacks across the entire league, and a call for experience has been out there since training camp.
It seems foolish to assume that acquiring Akers means the Vikings will suddenly be an adequate running team. While Risner’s presence certainly helps on the line, he is a pass-blocking guard who will take time to get up to speed. The Vikings don’t need Akers to be the second coming of Adrian Peterson, but they do need to have more balance in the offense as a whole.
With Akers behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, the hope would be a more creative runner, with a few more starts under his belt, can make a difference opposite of the passing game. Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison continue to shine through the air, but Minnesota must find a way to work the ball on the ground unless they want to have one of the more predictable attacks in the league.
Bringing in Akers means the Vikings will abandon a true lead-back for the first time in a while. The days of Peterson and Cook are long gone, and a stable of talent has to carry the load. Maybe this dynamic allows Mattison to thrive without being featured, and Akers can hopefully bring a new style that compliments things for the Vikings. No matter how it plays out, O’Connell has to see better than what his offense has given him thus far.
Against a bad Chargers defense, they’ll get a chance to prove it on Sunday.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.