LA Rams may target TE Kendall Blanton frequently in SB LVI
By now, you’ve no doubt pondered which player on the LA Rams offense will show up big in Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a difficult matter because the Rams have a number of players who could be vitally effective against that Bengals defense. But one name you are not considering is that of tight end, Kendall Blanton. While you are not alone, you may want to place him on your radar scope.
The Bengals were vulnerable to tight ends throughout the 2021 NFL season. Per The Football Database, the Bengals’ defense allowed 96 receptions, 1083 yards, and eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends. On a per-game basis, that works out to 5.6 catches per 7.8 targets, 63.7 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns per game.
Right now, the LA Rams starting TE Tyler Higbee looks unlikely to play in Super Bowl LVI, after suffering an MCL knee sprain. That means that the spotlight will be solely on TE Kendall Blanton. I, for one, think he’s ready.
Blanton’s time to shine
Blanton wasn’t even in the discussion for the Rams roster for this season, but the 6-foot-6 260-pound tight end had an excellent training camp and preseason, which placed him onto the LA Rams practice squad. After the season-ending injury to tight end Johnny Mundt, the Rams activated Blanton from the practice squad to the active 53-man roster.
Through the 2021 NFL season, Blanton has been mainly a blocking tight end. In seven games and two starts, he was targetted just seven times with four catches for 37 yards. He was successful in moving the chains, getting two first downs for the Rams. But things changed dramatically after TE Tyler Hibee was injured. In two playoff game appearances, Blanton has been targetted seven times. This time, he has caught all seven passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. As far as moving the chains? He gained a first down for the Rams offense five times.
Blanton’s best game was also the most recent game. In the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, it was Blanton who helped the Rams’ offense move the ball into field goal range to tie the game and then to win. He did all of that in the biggest game of his career at SoFi Stadium. Do you see where we are going with this?
Blanton has big game potential
Pro Football Focus certainly does. After grading Blanton a paltry 38.6 for his 2021 regular-season work, they have more than doubled his grade for his post-season performance to an eye-popping 75.0. Blanton is hot right now, and LA Rams head coach Sean McVay loves to keep hot players involved in his offense.
He was signed as an undrafted free agent to the team after the 2019 NFL Draft from the Missouri Tigers. While he saw some action in his rookie season, he has been slowly developed and prepared for a moment just like this. And based on how well he performed against the San Francisco 49ers, I look for a similar performance in Super Bowl LVI.
The Bengals won’t be looking for a lot of Kendall Blanton in the game. Why should they? He has been insignificant practically all season. But what if the LA Rams feature him in their first two sets of offensive plays? Imagine the Bengals’ defense trying to scramble to redirect coverage to try to defend him? With the Bengals defense on their heels, that opens up the entire LA Rams playbook, both for the run and the pass.
Blanton could be a very effective weapon for the LA Rams offense. Keep him on your radar scope.