Overthinking the scenario was not an possibility for Brycen Hopkins.
With Rams tight finish Tyler Higbee sidelined for Tremendous Bowl LVI due to a knee damage, and back-up Kendall Blanton all of a sudden out of the sport at SoFi Stadium due to a shoulder damage, the Rams turned to the seldom-used Hopkins.
Hopkins was inactive for many video games throughout his two NFL seasons. Now coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford would possibly put the ball within the palms of a participant who had a grand complete of 1 profession catch.
Hopkins stepped up and caught 4 passes within the 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
“When you realize that you’re the last one, you know, you’ve got to kind of just make your decision quickly — and I was prepared for the moment,” Hopkins stated Monday after a coaching camp apply at UC Irvine. “I wasn’t nervous about anything. … I was definitely ready.”
Now the Rams are making ready for one more potential run to the Tremendous Bowl, aiming to turn out to be the primary workforce because the 2004 season to repeat as champion.
They’ll want manufacturing from their tight ends to perform the feat final achieved by the New England Patriots.
Higbee, a seventh-year professional, is a confirmed commodity. Blanton has gone from undrafted free agent to reliable reserve. And Hopkins’ Tremendous Bowl efficiency maybe confirmed why the Rams opted to pick him within the fourth-round two years in the past when there was no apparent want for a good finish.
“Those three guys have played in real games — that are big-time games,” McVay stated. “Whether it’s the plays Brycen’s making in the Super Bowl…. And then Kendall being able to get some confidence playing as much as he did in both the NFC Championship and then even the first half of the Super Bowl.
“I think those guys picked up where they left off. We want to see them continue to improve, but we’ve got three guys we feel good about.”
Higbee, a fourth-round draft choose in 2016, is carrying an $8 million salary-cap quantity within the second-to-last 12 months of an extension he signed in 2019.
Final season, Higbee caught 61 passes, 5 for touchdowns. He suffered a knee damage within the NFC championship sport in opposition to the San Francisco 49ers that pressured him to sit down out the Tremendous Bowl earlier than present process surgical procedure.
A month from the Sept. 8 opener in opposition to the Buffalo Payments at SoFi Stadium, Higbee seemed to be at full power from the outset of coaching camp.
“Getting back into everything and shaking some of that rust off,” he stated.
Higbee, 29, is “a staple, the old vet,” who units an instance for youthful gamers, stated Thomas Brown, tight ends coach this season after two seasons teaching operating backs.
The Rams signed Blanton in 2019. He spent two seasons on the apply squad earlier than former Rams tight finish Johnny Mundt suffered a season-ending knee damage in opposition to the New York Giants final season.
Blanton, 26, caught 4 passes for 37 yards throughout the common season. Within the 30-27 NFC divisional-round victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he caught a first-quarter landing go. He had 5 receptions within the NFC championship sport victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Blanton began the Tremendous Bowl rather than Higbee and needed to proceed to play after struggling what he thought was a dislocated shoulder within the first half.
“I stayed in, and the next play it came out,” he stated. “I ran to the sideline and they kind of moved it around and put me in a harness for two or three more plays, but it kept coming out.
“We were down at the time, and being a competitor, you want to be out there on the field.”
Regardless of his ascent on the depth chart, Blanton stated he has not modified an strategy he adopted as an undrafted free agent.
“I know how I came in and the work it took to get there,” he stated. “I’ve improved every year, so why change now.”
Hopkins, 25, has made changes and eventually seems snug and capable of play with focus.
Final season, on a key third down in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks, he caught his first go. However his efficiency within the Tremendous Bowl raised his profile. Taking part in a career-high 39 snaps, he had two 16-yard receptions and two others that produced a mixed 15 yards.
“I was tired physically, but my mind was still focused and locked in on what I had to do,” he stated, “and that just seemed like another day. The more relaxed I am out there, the more I’m able to concentrate.”
The Rams anticipate Higbee to return to type and for Blanton and Hopkins to proceed their progress.
Higbee is optimistic after watching his youthful teammates throughout coaching camp.
“They did some great things at the end of last year and hopefully got some confidence, being able to build off of that,” he stated, including. “We’re going to need them this year.”