THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – While their teammates were playing under the brightest lights of the NFL season, Rams safety Jordan Fuller and tight end Tyler Higbee were both in "a dark place."
Just under five weeks earlier, Fuller had sustained an ankle injury in the regular season finale that sidelined him for the playoffs. Higbee's knee injury occurred two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship game. Collectively, they couldn't play in their team's biggest game of the season.
Difficult as those times may have been watching the Rams win the Super Bowl without them being on the field on Feb. 13, that absence has both players driven to help their team return to that stage this upcoming season.
"I was definitely fortunate to have played in one already, but my mindset now is, we have to go back so that I can play and win this year because I missed out," Higbee said during a video conference with reporters Tuesday.
Fuller logged 113 total tackles, four pass breakups and one interception in 16 starts prior to his injury, while Higbee posted 61 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games, both playing important roles in helping the Rams finish the regular season with a 12-5 record and their fourth playoff berth in five seasons.
That didn't make it any easier to stomach watching their teammates capture the Lombardi Trophy on their home turf, though.
While both players got to be on the sideline for the Super Bowl, Fuller had a much more bittersweet experience for most of Los Angeles' playoff run, watching the Wild Card, Divisional Round and NFC Championship celebrations from home because he was on crutches and it was unsafe for him to be on the sidelines – he wouldn't be able to get out the way quickly enough if someone made a tackle near there. He also couldn't drive to the stadium initially because he injured his right ankle.
Both players had help in different ways in getting past those emotions.
For Higbee, getting the Super Bowl ring "made it all better." Meanwhile, Fuller leaned on a "bunch of people," especially his fellow defensive backs.
"People that meant the most to me was probably Nick Scott, like after the Super Bowl, because you kind of feel like you're a part of the whole thing in some way," Fuller said. "So I'm like, after the Super Bowl we won, I'm like, 'you did it bro, you did it.' And he was like, 'Nah, bro, we did it.' It was probably little to him, but it meant a lot to me."
Now in the midst of the 2022 offseason program and pushing through the rest of their rehabilitation programs, Fuller and Higbee are progressing well and have their sights set on getting the Rams back to the Super Bowl – and playing in it to make an impact to help win another one.
"Being a part of the game, just even on the sideline was special, but I could just imagine being on the field," Fuller said. "I'm definitely motivated to get back there."