Everyone knows that a good tight end can be a quarterback’s best friend, but few signal callers in the league need a better friend than St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford. After being battered and bruised in 2011, the Rams hope that Bradford can turn things around in the year ahead and their fate as a team really hinges on his success. That means that last year’s second round draft choice Lance Kendricks at tight end needs to become a reliable target in the passing game.
As a rookie, Kendricks had a relatively underwhelming year, but he has all of the tools necessary to be success and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer reiterated that point earlier in the offseason. In his 15 games last year, he did haul in 28 grabs for a total of 352 yards, but he was unable to find the end zone during his first year in the league. Adding that dimension to his repertoire will greatly improve the Rams offense with a go-to receiver in the red zone.
Kendricks did have plenty of drops in the rookie year however and that gives some hesitation in believing that he can be an elite tight end. He was very candid about that and more when he said: “The main thing I saw was a lot of times when I was tired was when I made my most mistakes. When you get tired, you can forget things and I would have a mental error here or there so I think most of it just came from fatigue. Just having this offseason and being able to work out with the team, I was able to focus on getting my body right and getting healthy and taking my protein and doing the things they feel is right which will help me out in the long run.”
The lockout last offseason did make things more difficult for everyone, but the rookies especially suffered without the ability to get in the extra reps. It was baptism by fire for Kendricks and that sink or swim experience of being dropped into the deep end was a bit rough. Now with that all behind him he can build on what he went through a year ago and turn it into a positive rather than a negative. If he and Bradford can build a rapport in the red zone, this Rams offense will score a lot more points in 2012.
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