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Vikings get RB Cam Akers in trade with Rams after poor start

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EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The points-deficient Minnesota Vikings acquired running back Cam Akers in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday after the fourth-year player fell out of favor with the staff of coaches and behind Kyren Williams in depth. chart.

The Vikings sent a conditional 2026 sixth-round pick to the Rams for Akers and a conditional 2026 seventh-round pick as part of the deal, pending Akers passing a physical.

Akers, who was the 52nd overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Florida State, tore his Achilles tendon during the 2021 preseason but recovered quickly enough to contribute in the playoffs during of the Rams’ run to a Super Bowl title. Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips and quarterbacks coach Chris O’Hara were assistants with the Rams during Akers’ first two years there.

Last season, Akers got off to a slow start and clashed with coaches. He was dismissed from the team mid-season as the Rams attempted to trade him. He returned after the deadline without a deal and ramped up his production, recording three straight 100-yard games to cap a dismal season for the then-defending champions.

After Sony Michel’s surprise retirement, Akers was the clear favorite to be the star ball carrier in coach Sean McVay’s pass-centric offense.

“I know I deserve to be a starter in this league, so it’s this year. Keep your head down, go to work, prove myself,” Akers said after reporting to training camp.

But after the Rams moved second-year player Williams ahead of him in the pecking order, they renewed their attempt to trade Akers. The Vikings were a natural fit given their coaches’ familiarity with him and their league-low 69 rushing yards and league-high six lost fumbles through two games.

“I think he did a lot of really good things and I think Cam is a quality player. I think sometimes it comes down to, “Okay, is this okay with you?” “, McVay said Monday after confirming the Rams were trying to negotiate with Akers again. “This is not an indictment against anyone. I really care about Cam a lot and appreciate some of the difficult things we went through and where we ended up in terms of our relationship and our ability to communicate clearly.

The market value of running backs has never been lower in the NFL, as evidenced by the trade compensation paid to the Rams. By finding a trade partner, they at least saved some of their salary ($1.29 million) on their cap hit.

The Vikings released four-time Pro Bowl pick Dalvin Cook over the summer and handed over their backfield to Alexander Mattison, with second-year player Ty Chandler and recent pickup Myles Gaskin backing him up. Akers will have the opportunity to factor in this mix.

O’Connell stressed the need to have a more efficient rushing attack, even though the Vikings are built around Kirk Cousins ​​passing to Justin Jefferson and company. The coaches spent the extra time after last Thursday’s loss at Philadelphia reviewing their strategy around the ground game.

“A lot of it just comes down to simple elements of technique, fundamentals, understanding what we’re trying to do,” O’Connell said Wednesday before the trade was made.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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