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Countdown to Camp: Tight Ends and Fullbacks

Posted Jul 25, 2015

In this edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at a group that can block and catch.

In today’s edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at the Rams’ cornerbacks. Be sure to send in your question about tomorrow’s subject, safeties, either in the comments or @MylesASimmons on Twitter.

TIGHT ENDS/FULLBACKS

Newcomers: Zach Laskey

Often termed a quarterback’s “security blanket,” the tight end position is always important for an offense. And the Rams have a good crop of tight ends and fullbacks to both block and catch for new quarterback Nick Foles.

The leader of the group, Jared Cook, enters his third season with St. Louis, and seventh year in the NFL. He’s been a consistent presence as a target for Rams’ quarterbacks, having led the team with 52 receptions last year.

An unrestricted free agent following the 2014 season, Lance Kendricks elected to re-sign with the Rams on a four-year deal. He figures to continue playing a significant role with the offense, as he led the team in touchdown catches last season.

Contributing in unheralded ways is Cory Harkey’s specialty. Listed as a tight end, he often served as the lead blocker for Rams’ running backs last year. But Harkey can also help out in the passing game, as he not only had a touchdown reception, but also caught a fake extra point for a two-point conversion from punter Johnny Hekker.

Heading into his second season, Alex Bayer played in six games in 2014, appearing mostly on special teams after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green. Brad Smelley and Justice Cunningham both return to the club having spent most of last year on the practice squad.

Finally, listed as a true fullback, Zach Laskey signed with St. Louis as an undrafted free agent in May. Laskey was a second-team All-ACC honoree in 2014, after rushing for 851 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

In each of our Countdown to Camp posts, we’ll feature one of your Twitter questions on the position group. Today’s Q comes from @DreRG10.

Well, the first thing I’d say is that Foles probably has affinity for all of his receivers, not just the tight ends. But based on Cook’s comments during OTAs, I’d say it’s pretty clear that he developed some early chemistry with the new signal-caller. Back in June, Cook said that Foles is “everything that you want in a quarterback,” and praised the way he had taken command of the offense.

But if Cook is to have that kind of big year -- which I’m not necessarily predicting, but I do think there is a chance for -- there will be a number of other factors. I mentioned this in the post on wide receivers, but consistent quarterback play will help out the Rams’ tight ends, too. What also could aid Cook in achieving a strong season are the elements offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti inserts into the passing game. Cook said during OTAs that communication between all parties on offense has increased, which should only help the unit’s chances for success. And so if everyone is on the same page, that should lead to a solid performance not only from Cook, but also from the rest of the offense.

Thanks for the question, Andrei. Fans, be sure to leave your question about the Rams’ safeties in the comments below, or send it over to @MylesASimmons on Twitter and it could be featured right here in tomorrow’s Countdown to Camp.

COUNTDOWN TO CAMP - PREVIOUS POSTS

JULY 24 - CORNERBACKS
JULY 23 - WIDE RECEIVERS
JULY 22 - LINEBACKERS
JULY 21 - SPECIAL TEAMS

The Rams will begin training camp with a 3:30 p.m. practice at Rams Park on Friday, July 31. For more information, visit our official training camp page.