Akers was lost for the season when he tore his Achilles last week, a huge blow to the Rams rushing attack. The Rams were banking on Akers to pace the running game and become a viable receiving option out of the backfield in his second year. Now, Los Angeles is scrambling to replace his production as training camp opens.
"I have a lot of belief and a lot of trust in the guys that we have in that locker room and on the coaching staff to no matter who's back there, we're going to have a successful running game," Stafford said to reporters at Rams training camp Sunday. "Really the biggest gut punch was for the kid. I think it's so difficult. I dealt with injuries my first couple of years. Really throughout your career, you end up doing it here in the NFL. So, that one's obviously a tough one and one that's going to take some time.
"So I really feel for him, more so than I do us as a team. I know we'll miss him out there. He's a great player, but just feel bad for him to not get the opportunity to go out there and play the game that I know he loves to play. We'll do everything we can to make him proud."
The Rams will turn to Darrell Henderson to carry the load at running back. Henderson finished with 138 carries for 624 yards and five touchdowns (4.5 yards per carry) last season, while also having 16 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. He started 11 games for the Rams last season, even though Akers took over as the No. 1 running back late in the year.
There isn't much insurance behind Henderson, which is where the Rams may be concerned. Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais have never taken a carry in an NFL regular season game, while Otis Anderson is an undrafted free agent rookie.
Stafford has the right mentality in rallying his team, especially given the unfortunate circumstance that could derail the Rams' Super Bowl hopes.
"Really tough to see that happen to a young guy that's a really promising, talented player. Unfortunately, that's kind of the name of the game in the NFL," Stafford said. "You hate to see it happen in the offseason when we're playing a game or something, but it's next man up. Those guys are going to battle it out and I'm sure we'll do whatever we can to make the running game as good as we possibly can...Next man up, we'll go from there."