It's already now or never for these five seldom seen vets on the Rams roster

It's 'Get your rear in gear!' time for these five seldom seen veteran on the LA Rams roster, or they may not keep a spot on the team.
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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IV: TE Hunter Long

The untimely but quite serious injury to starting tight end Tyler Higbee as a catalyst that may have started a minor upheaval to the teams tight end room. That trigger has forced the team to focus the attention on the positional group as a whole, and not limit the scope of their review and analysis to the period of time expected for Higbee to fully recover.

After all, not only did the team face the absence of Higbee for an indeterminate amount of time, but backup tight end Brycen Hopkins was parting ways with the team due to an expired four-year rookie contract. So plenty of opportunity for more work in 2024 for veteran Hunter Long, right?

Well, not exactly.

Holes in the Hunter Long is in line for a larger role theory appear as soon as you examine how the team distributed offensive snaps in 2023. Those snap counts fell out as follows:

  • Tyler Higbee - 866 snaps
  • Davis Allen - 192 snaps
  • Brycen Hopkins - 96 snaps
  • Hunter Long - 55 snaps

Long was trailing all other tight ends in offensive snaps last season.

Shakeup time for Rams TE room

That certainly qualifies as a first clue as to how the team views Hunter Long's upside in this offense. Even if the limited number of snaps was a result of lingering injuries, Long's inability to push for more offensive snaps did nothing to help his chances for 2024. Rookie tight end proved to be far more than a big bodied blocking tight end last year.

Perhaps the most significant clue for how 2024 will shake out is the fact that the team sought help at the top of the depth chart for the tight end position, signing TE Colby Parkinson to a rather robust three-year deal worth $22.5 million. No NFL front office places that amount of money on the table for a guy expected to spend most of his time on the bench.

6-foot-5, 253-pound tight end Hunter Long has caught just one of three passes thrown his way, and has yet to haul in a pass for the LA Rams. The Rams may have to fill in time while Tyler Higbee recuperates in 2024. But they have both Davis Allen and newly signed veteran TE Colby Parkinson to compete for that interim role.

However the team envisioned deploying TE Hunter Long in this offense, it appears that window is closing quite rapidly. C'est la vie in the competitive world of professional football.