INDIANAPOLIS — With tight ends up for their on-field workouts on Saturday afternoon, one player at that position for the Rams who came up this week was Tyler Higbee.
The Western Kentucky product played in all 16 games — starting seven — but was mainly used in a blocking role along the line. He finished the 2016 season with 11 receptions for 85 yards with a touchdown.
"It was interesting, Tyler started off real hot. In training camp he was a big weapon for us. But then he ran into a few injuries that set him back," general manager Les Snead said. "And when that occurs, your offense moves on. They're moving on to try and win games and that's what happened to him. He got behind because of injuries and wasn't really able to recover from that until midway through the season and we started seeing him in the lineup and saying, 'That's really Higbee.'"
But one of the staples of head coach Sean McVay's offense is the use of tight ends. Having coached the position in Washington from 2011-2013 before becoming the club's offensive coordinator, McVay helped develop Jordan Reed into one of the league's premier pass catchers. Over the last two seasons, with McVay as Washington's play caller, Reed averaged 76 receptions for 819 yards and eight touchdowns.
"When you get a chance to be around some great players like I was in Washington, you feel very fortunate," McVay said. "But it's about figuring out what those guys do best. We are going to be an offense that is going to involve the tight end in a variety of different ways. Whether a guy can run some of those option routes like Jordan was able to do, or he's going to be a guy that stretches the seam."
Still, both Snead and McVay seemed optimistic about the prospect of inserting Higbee into Los Angeles' new offensive scheme.
"Getting around Tyler, I'm excited about it because I really enjoyed, liked him coming out," McVay said. "Didn't get a whole lot of opportunities last year to truly evaluate in-game experience but he's a guy that does have a nice catch radius, he can stretch the seam, got a good feel and savvy in the pass game. So how we use him [is] yet to be determined, but he's a guy we're looking forward to getting on the grass with."
"[McVay's] offense has multiple tight ends, a lot of time two — sometimes three," Snead said. "So we expect big things from Tyler."