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Rams Keeping Kendricks Busy

Posted Oct 8, 2012

After playing two games in five days, it’s safe to assume that the three extra days of rest enjoyed by the Rams over the weekend were sorely needed.

Judging who needed the rest the most isn’t an exercise worth partaking in but for tight end Lance Kendricks, it’s quite clear that a little down time was needed. That’s because – through five games – save for quarterback Sam Bradford and the offensive line, Kendricks has probably played more snaps than any offensive player.

“It reminds me a lot of college when I was on the field all the time,” Kendricks said. “It’s kind of the same. I know what I do is a big part of the team and I know it’s important, whether it’s blocking or catching passes. Whatever I can contribute, I try to take that in stride.”

Against Arizona last Thursday, Kendricks finally got his first touchdown catch in a regular season NFL game after going the first 19 games without one. He caught a 7-yard strike from Bradford to open the game and give the Rams a lead they would not relinquish against the Cardinals.

“It was real good to finally get the monkey off your back in the second year,” Kendricks said. “It feels good just to get out there and make a play.”

While Kendricks’ receiving numbers in the first five games – 10 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown – are relatively modest, the fact that he’s playing nearly every down offensively speaks to the larger role he’s been asked to handle under new coach Jeff Fisher and coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

In his second year in the league after the Rams grabbed him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Kendricks is a vastly improved blocker who has found ways to help the team in ways that go beyond just catching passes.

“Yes, he’s been playing very well,” Fisher said. “His blocking, I think that goes unnoticed, but I was happy that he was able to make that catch. He made a big catch for us last week to keep a drive alive down the middle part of the field, so he’s coming on. (Tight ends coach) Rob’s (Boras) working with him, doing a good job with him. It’s hard to take him off the field because of his ability.”

Because of that, Kendricks actually hasn’t come off the field much at all, especially in the past two games. In facing the ferocious pass rushes of Arizona and Seattle, it should be no surprise that the tight end was on the field a lot to serve as an outlet for Bradford in the passing game but more important as an extra blocker to help protect him.

Against Seattle, Kendricks played 55 of a possible 61 offensive snaps and he followed it with another busy day against the Cardinals, staying on the field for 47 of a possible 56 offensive snaps.

Since playing in 72 percent of the plays in the opener against Detroit, Kendricks’ role has increased and stabilized as he’s played in no less than 84 percent of the team’s offensive snaps since.

With the likely possibility that receiver Danny Amendola will miss some time because of a shoulder/clavicle injury, Kendricks’ role in the passing game could expand. Barring that, there’s no doubt he’ll still be quite active.

Either way, Kendricks doesn’t mind.

“Not at all,” Kendricks said. “As long as we are winning games and as long as we are getting better as a team, I really can’t complain. If we are winning games and getting points on the board and I am making good blocks, that’s a plus.”

Like the rest of his teammates, Kendricks was looking forward to the down time that they were afforded on Saturday, Sunday and Monday but with a 3-2 record and some momentum on his side, he was also excited to return to work. 

“I’ve been playing a ton of snaps,” Kendricks said. “I get a little sore so I am just going to relax and come back prepared for Miami.”

CHIPPING IN: Speaking of expanded roles in the game, rookie running back Daryl Richardson continues to see his workload increase with each passing week.

Richardson was a bit limited earlier in the year as he made the adjustment to the league and, in particular, working in pass protection and blitz pickup.

But Richardson played 20 snaps against Arizona and continues to be worked into the game plan more and more. That’s partially a function of his improved work in protecting Bradford.

“Daryl is as good as you can find in there as a pass protector,” Fisher said. “He does a nice job with that. He’s a change of pace to what people are used to with Jack carrying the football. He’s got great acceleration speed and he’s going to be a playmaker for us.”
 
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: When safety Quintin Mikell departed last week’s game against Arizona with a concussion, it provided Darian Stewart his first extended opportunity at safety of the season.

Stewart, who had dealt with a hamstring injury through the preseason and into the opening weeks of the season, did what he could to take advantage of his opportunity.

Stewart played 46 plays and posted three tackles and batted down a pass in his time on defense.

Fisher was pleased with not only how Stewart fared but also the way the other defensive backs helped out in Mikell’s absence.

“He did fine,” Fisher said. “He didn’t have any issues. Had the big hit and did fine. He knows what to do. He pays attention. He has a good feel for what he’s doing. It’s good to be able to go to him. When ‘Fletch’ (CB Bradley Fletcher) left for a few plays, ‘Tru’ (CB Trumaine Johnson) went in and filled in at the nickel corner spot and he did a good job as well.”

Mikell is expected to undergo the normal battery of tests this week before he can be cleared to return. He did tweet that he’s OK after the game.

FEARSOME FOURSOME: Wednesday night on NFL Network, Rams fans will get the opportunity to take an inside look at four of the most dominant players ever to wear the horns when “Fearsome Foursome: A Football Life” debuts at 7 p.m. central.

The primetime special takes a closer look at the defensive line that changed the game with insight on Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier and Merlin Olsen. The piece is narrated by Jennifer Allen, the daughter of former Rams coach George Allen.