Week 2 in the NFL produced more points than Week 1 and also produced some very intriguing storylines.
Let’s take an inside look at some of the interesting ones from this past weekend in our Week 2 NFL News and Rumors Notebook.
Week 2 NFL News and Rumors
Is Cam Akers’ Time Up With the Los Angeles Rams?
One of the strangest and most surprising stories to come out of Sunday’s games was the Rams’ decision to bench starting RB Cam Akers in favor of second-year RB Kyren Williams leading up to their game against the visiting San Francisco 49ers.
Akers, who was one of the team’s five pregame inactives, opened up the season as the clear starter at the position.
In fact, as Pro Football Network noted back in training camp, Akers was back in the good graces of the coaching staff and head coach Sean McVay after the fourth-year pro was put on the trade block last season after getting benched.
Sources familiar with the situation said Akers had a disagreement on his role last season and how he would be used by then-running backs coach Ra’Shaad Samples, who would wind up leaving the team before the season ended to join Arizona State as their wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator.
I’m just as confused as everybody else. I’m blessed though 🤷🏾♂️
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) September 17, 2023
Samples was the youngest assistant coach with the Rams last season at just 27 years old. An organizational source said once the trade deadline passed and Samples left, Akers was able to put the negativity behind him and finished the season well.
McVay, who is known in coaching circles as being down on players who do not perform well in regular season practices, clearly made the decision to bench Akers, and when he’s down on the player, it’s rarely a well-kept secret around the NFL.
“Coaches decision,” McVay said when asked after the game about why Akers wasn’t active. “(I) felt like that was best for our football team. I felt like Kyren gave us the best opportunity, and what (second-year pro) Ronnie (Rivers) and (veteran RB) Royce (Freeman) have done… So that was a decision that I made.”
According to a FOX Sports report, other teams said the Rams were trying to trade Akers again recently.
As for rookie RB Zach Evans, a source familiar with the team’s thinking said while the team remains high on him, he’s still in the learning phase in several areas, including pass protection. The sixth-round pick was inactive prior to Sunday’s game with Williams, second-year pro Rivers, and Freeman active.
As for Akers remaining on the team, McVay was asked if it’s still possible.
“I think there’s going to be an opportunity to see what that looks like moving forward, but it’s not going to be a back-and-forth thing. He and I have had great dialogue, and we’ll see what happens over the next couple of days,” he said.
Marvin Mims Jr.’s Performances Offer Denver Broncos Coaching Staff Some Options
While he’s not starting yet and isn’t playing a lot of snaps through two games, rookie WR Marvin Mims Jr. is starting to make his move.
As we detailed during one of our training camp notebooks, Mims Jr. is well respected in the coaching community, and Pro Football Network spoke to a veteran wide receivers coach Sunday evening who said he turned in a first-round grade prior to the draft on the former Oklahoma pass catcher and is not surprised that he had a breakout performance during the Broncos loss to the visiting Washington Commanders.
What this coach liked in particular about Mims Jr. was his versatility and high football IQ, which is why some teams saw him being able to play inside or outside at the NFL level.
He posted just two receptions against the Commanders but for 113 yards, and one of them was a 60-yard TD catch. He also had a 45-yard punt return.
“Mims (Jr.), those two plays were spectacular plays by him,” Broncos starting QB Russell Wilson said after the game after being asked about the rookie’s performance.
“First of all, in the first half, he runs the deep post for a touchdown. That was a beautiful route (with) great protection. We checked to that play. They were going to bring double corner cats and we checked to that play (and) got to it. Great protection by the guys. Mims gets wide open there and we hit a huge touchdown.
“That was a big play. A big, explosive play for us. Then we come down, I think the next drive or the following drive I believe it was. We hit him on a deep go ball. He runs right by the guy and makes a great catch. I think the biggest thing is that we have so many receivers and so many guys that can really make plays.
“I think we’re moving guys in and out. He had another great punt return. Anytime he can touch the football, it’s a good thing for us. I think that was a positive of the game, especially seeing a rookie make those type of plays.”
With fourth-year Jerry Jeudy only signed through next season and with veteran WRs Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick carrying a combined over $30 million in salary cap space for 2024, Mims Jr. could get his first crack at a starting job next season.
Jalin Hyatt Among Young Players To Step Up for New York Giants Sunday
In what could only be called an amazing but surprising comeback, the Giants were able to overcome a 21-point deficit to beat the host Arizona Cardinals, 31-28. The team was also outscored 60-0 over their first six quarter of plays this season prior to the second-half comeback.
What made the win even more surprising was that the defense did not record a turnover or even post a sack.
But some reasons why they were able to come back in the game were the contributions from some unlikely contributors such as rookie WR Jalin Hyatt and S Jason Pinnock.
Hyatt, a third-round rookie, did not record a catch during Week 1’s loss to the visiting Dallas Cowboys. And while he was known in scouting circles as one of the top deep threats for this year’s NFL Draft, he got knocked for not being physical enough, which was why he dropped a few rounds.
The play that changed everything
— New York Revival (@NewYorkRevival) September 18, 2023
One college scouting source told Pro Football Network that Hyatt would too often not come up with catches in college (Tennessee) due to playing “too finesse.”
However, he had a huge 58-yard reception as part of the team’s 31-point second-half scoring surge and finished with 89 yards on his two receptions. And his 31-yard fourth-quarter catch was definitely a physical catch as Cardinals rookie CB Kei’Trel Clark was draped right over him.
“I thought Hyatt stepped up as a young rookie and made a couple nice plays,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll said after the game about Hyatt.
Pinnock, a former fifth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2021, was claimed off waivers prior to the start of last season.
He wound up starting five games with the Giants last season and won a starting job this season.
The former University of Pittsburgh defensive back, who has good size (6’0”, 200), was not highly regarded in college scouting circles, so there had been some questions in terms of whether he could be a starter at the NFL level.
On Sunday, he came up big with 13 combined tackles and 3 tackles for a loss and had an interception in the third quarter called back due to a penalty by one of his teammates.
The Giants will need those types of contributions probably a lot more if they want to beat the host San Francisco 49ers this Thursday.