Aug 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams tight end Lance Kendricks (88) is congratulated by Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) after scoring a 23 yard touchdown reception against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

What the Return of Lance Kendricks means to the St. Louis Rams

 

What  a pleasantry it is to have the versatile tight end Lance Kendricks back from a meniscus tear.

Thought of as one of the Rams’ unsung heroes last season, Kendricks was sidelined for the duration of Organized Team Activities and for the most of training camp, but his activation from the PUP list–as well as defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo–will only raise the level of expectation for this young, upstart offense.

Kendricks is still not ready for live game action, but he will reportedly make an appearance in either the third or fourth preseason game.

His return, again, points back to comments made by the Rams Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Demoff, saying, “I think you can see this offense resemble an offense like the New Orleans Saints, where you have four or five players catch 40 to 50 balls, but nobody who catches 70 or 80…we now have the personnel to match that style on offense with an offense that can have multiple tight ends, empty backfields and different personnel combinations to try and stress the defense and create mismatches.”

Head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s bread and butter style of play is ball control and pound the rock, but the Rams were more effective on offense last season when they handed the reigns over to Sam Bradford allowing him to call no huddles and throw from the spread formation.

The style of play he mastered and ran during his whole career at the University of Oklahoma winning the Heisman Trophy in 2008 as a redshirt sophomore.

Last season, Kendricks was slotted in the position as the Rams’ conventional fullback when Britt Miller was let go. The adaptable Kendricks lined up in the slot, in the backfield where he ran swing routes and run-blocked, and also on the line. Kendricks had the longest play from scrimmage for the Rams on an 80-yard catch and run on the opening play of the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His breakout sophomore year totaling 42 receptions, 519 yards and four scores was a far cry from his rookie season when Kendricks had a hard time catching hints, let alone passes. Kendricks had nine dropped passes in his rookie season compared to five this past season. He will undoubtedly fill that role again once he’s back at full strength and continues last year’s rapport with Bradford.

The addition of the ultra-athletic Jared Cook will cause a slight drop in Kendricks’ numbers, but it will also highlight Kendricks’ versatility and ability to take advantage of mismatches.

Having Cook and Kendricks on the field at the same time is another wrinkle the Rams will unveil this season to dictate the tempo and stress opposing defenses. Pairing those two with the likes of Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis, and the Rams’ unquestioned best overall receiver, Chris Givens, the rising anticipation of the Rams offense will only continue to skyrocket.

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