It’s Time for Cam Akers’ Role to Increase

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The Minnesota Vikings have only made slight personnel changes as the season continues, but it may be time to look at a bigger shakeup. Head coach Kevin O’Connell needs to spark his team to orchestrate a turnaround, and a greater look for Cam Akers could provide that boost.

It’s Time for Cam Akers’ Role to Increase

After getting off to a slow start out of the gate, the Minnesota Vikings explored outside options to help supplement their roster. Although the reinforcements have not yet played a huge role, Dalton Risner and Cam Akers were brought into the organization. While Risner was signed as a free agent, Akers was acquired from Kevin O’Connell’s former team.

for cam akers
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Knowing what Akers brings to the table as a running back, O’Connell specifically targeted his services when it became clearer that Alexander Mattison needed help. When the decision was made not to bring back Dalvin Cook for 2023, Minnesota opted to turn the keys over to Mattison. He had performed admirably in reserve duties for Cook, which seemed to make sense as a transition plan.

Unfortunately, Mattison has hidden the bright spots with mostly lackluster performance. He has 320 yards on the ground through his first six games, and it’s come at a 3.9 yards per carry crack, but two games have propped that up. Last week against a hapless Chicago Bears squad, Mattison managed just 44 yards on 18 carries. The 2.4 yards per carry was awful, and it represented the fourth time he has posted less than 3.5 yards per carry in a contest this season.

New Blood on the Way
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There were always going to be questions as to how the running back situation would work in Minnesota this year. Not only had Mattison never been a lead back, but the inexperience at the position behind him was troublesome. Ty Chandler has yet to establish himself as a real option in the league, and Kene Nwangwu is more of a special teams player than a true runner. After the latter ended up on injured reserve, the problem only intensified.

Coming over from Los Angeles, it was well known that Akers had grown tired of the process regarding his role on a week-to-week basis. That said, he had worked as the starter for a consistent stretch and had put up solid numbers during his first few seasons in the league. With a change of scenery and a familiar face from a coaching perspective, being able to flourish shouldn’t have been unexpected.

Now, three weeks into his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, Akers has yet to top five rushing attempts in any contest. When given an opportunity, he has looked like the better runner behind Kirk Cousins, and his 40 yards against the Panthers seemed notable. Last week against the Bears, he rushed only one time despite Mattison struggling to get anything going. That appears to be an opportunity for change going forward.

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At this point, it’s probably drastic to switch the roles of the running backs entirely. Mattison was brought back to be the starter, and certainly, he can remain as much. Akers needs to be incorporated at a much higher level than he has been to this point, and something like a 50/50 split makes a good deal of sense. There is no longer reason to operate with a mindset that Mattison is the lead back, and opportunities should reflect that.

Minnesota is likely not going anywhere of substance this season, but finding a way to get the most out of all their position groups each week is a must. It starts in the backfield.

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.