The Rams won’t have their starting quarterback on Sunday or one of their starting receivers. To make matters worse, each of the team’s top three tailbacks is injured.
Darrell Henderson is on injured reserve. Malcolm Brown has been limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury. And rookie Cam Akers, who had emerged as the top option, missed Week 16 with a high ankle sprain. It sounds like Akers won’t practice this week, and that his availability for the Week 17 game against the Cardinals will be determined on Sunday.
“[H]e’s feeling good,” coach Sean McVay told reporters on Thursday regarding Akers. “I certainly am not ready to rule my man Cam out by any stretch.”
McVay said that, ideally, Akers would practice before playing. But McVay will let Akers play even if he can’t practice.
“I think with the amount of experience that he’s gotten as of late, if you can have him in any capacity, you feel good about that,” McVay said. “I do trust the way that he’s preparing, and I know [running backs coach] Thomas [Brown] is meeting with him and getting some above-the-neck mental reps. So you’d like to be able to get him some physical reps, but I think the approach that we’ll take this week will be use every moment that we have leading up to game time to make sure that you get him as healthy as possible and let’s not put him at risk for any potential setbacks. So if he is able to go, it’ll be one of those deals that we’ll find out on game day, but don’t expect it to be any physical reps for him this week throughout the course of practice.”
McVay added that the Rams will prepare as if Akers won’t be able to go. The depth chart would then consist of Brown, Xavier Jones, and Raymond Calais. McVay will continue to hold out hope that Akers will be able to play.
“Because of that experience that he’s accumulated, you definitely don’t minimize the importance of practice, especially for a younger player, but having him in any capacity, if he feels like he’s able to go, that’s going to be a good thing for the Rams,” McVay said.
Against the Cardinals, it will be a major challenge for the Rams offensively with so many injury replacements. It also will be an opportunity for McVay to reconfirm his status as an offensive genius, if he can win without Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp, and perhaps Cam Akers.
If the Bears beat the Packers and the Rams lose to the Cardinals, the Rams will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.