Countdown to Camp is a series breaking down the Rams roster by position group heading into training camp. The seventh installment examines the tight ends.
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From 2018-2020, the Rams relied on Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett at tight end, with Johnny Mundt mixed in as a blocker. In 2021, it was mostly Higbee and Mundt after Everett departed in free agency earlier that offseason. However, the players behind them didn't have much game experience, save for maybe a handful of appearances on special teams.
In 2022, Los Angeles will have depth more closely resembling what it had when it deployed Higbee, Everett and Mundt, thanks to valuable playing time received in the postseason.
Higbee is back as the No. 1 tight end after collecting 61 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns last season. Kendall Blanton, a 2019 undrafted free agent signee, stepped up in the playoffs after Higbee got injured with seven catches for 75 yards across the Divisional Round and NFC Championship. And when Blanton got injured in the Super Bowl, 2020 fourth-round pick Brycen Hopkins – who mostly played on special teams last year – emerged to make multiple crucial catches on third down in L.A.'s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Combined, they have 106 games worth of regular season experience (led by Higbee's 84), plus another 16 games worth of playoff experience (led by Higbee's nine).
Plus, while it was primarily on special teams, Jacob Harris logged nine games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending torn ACL and MCL in that ninth game.
The group lost position coach Wes Phillips this offseason after Phillips was hired by the Vikings as their new offensive coordinator, but a familiar face is taking over in assistant head coach Thomas Brown, who shifts over to coaching tight ends after coaching running backs in his first two seasons on staff.
"Obviously, we do everything together for the most part when it comes to group installs that (head coach) Sean (McVay) and (offensive coordinator) Liam (Coen) will run when it comes to the pass game installs," Brown said during an April video conference. "But being able to have a chance to actually coach those routes and those concepts, (and) like I said before, having an opportunity to be able to be involved when it comes to up front combinations between our tackles and our tight ends, individual blocking with those guys versus different techniques, whether it be a six technique, a nine technique, an eight technique or six on the backside of it, the thought process kind of went into being able to continue to develop and grow which is always appreciated and looking forward to it."