Tight ends are in vogue in the NFL today, and several of the teams that are trying to stay ahead of the curve actually have two productive players at the position. The St. Louis Rams are attempting to employ that strategy in 2013 after a less than stellar season last year from Lance Kendricks. Still the team has high hopes for their 2011 second round draft pick, and this coming season could be his time to shine.
First and foremost, Kendricks has now had plenty of time to get fully acclimated to the NFL game. The pressure is on in year three as he should now be on the same page with quarterback Sam Bradford and the two of them will both finally have consecutive seasons under the same offensive coordinator with Brian Schottenheimer sticking around.
Whether the free agent acquisition of Jared Cook was meant as a warning, a motivational tactic, or somewhere in between is irrelevant. The Rams now have two tight ends that are more than capable of forming their own poor man’s version of the duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez with the New England Patriots. Add that in with a completely retooled offense in the coming season and it should spell big things for Kendricks this season.
Obviously getting to watch Cook in training camp and pick his brain will be quite beneficial for Kendricks as he attempts to really take the next step of development in year three. The fact the Cook is just one year older than Kendricks also has to serve as a bit of motivation. Any time your team brings in a player at your position that is a big money signing it suggests that there is something you as a player aren’t doing quite well enough to satisfy them. If Kendricks takes that hint and runs with it the Rams are going to benefit twofold from the addition of Cook this offseason.
The end of the 2012 season saw Kendricks at least show some more consistency in his game with three or more catches in the final five games of last year. He hasn’t yet developed into the red zone threat that the Rams hoped he would with only four career touchdowns to date — all of them last season — but with more weapons around him, 2013 could be a breakout year for the former Wisconsin Badger.
After this coming season, Kendricks only has one year remaining on his rookie deal so it is imperative that he starts to show improvement to warrant sticking around in St. Louis. The Rams should give him every opportunity to shine in the upcoming season, but it will be up to Kendricks to seize the moment.