2012-2016- The Fisher Era

2015 Training Camp Preview: Tight ends could be the St. Louis Rams’ secret weapons

The St. Louis Rams have tried to improve their efficiency at tight end over the past few seasons. They brought in Jared Cook from Tennessee and even recently retained the services of their 2011 second round draft pick, Lance Kendricks. Both were meant to help rejuvenate the offense, but their Rams careers have been littered with mixed results.

Newly appointed offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti does have some weapons to work with. The goal of training camp is to find ways to exploit them and put some points on the scoreboard. If the Rams have to rely on low-scoring wins again, it will be another long season.

It’s easy to place the blame solely on former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Admittedly, he did possess a lackluster playbook, but not all of the fault belonged to him. The quarterback situation didn’t help matters, and both Cook and Kendricks had their fair share of forgettable moments.

The veteran tight ends need to be more involved, especially in the red zone. They are built to be the perfect red zone targets, but they have both failed to excel in that aspect of the passing game. In fairness, Kendricks has suffered several nagging injuries over the years. As for Cook, consistency has been a huge issue, just as it has been for the rest of the offense.

So what is the solution? The Rams may have found one with the addition of quarterback Nick Foles. Foles came from a system that benefited from utilizing tight ends in its arsenal. Both Brent Celek and Zach Ertz flourished when Foles was taking the snaps. That said, both Cook and Kendricks both have the potential be better than Celek and Ertz. The weapons are there, and they can be a threat to opposing defenses. The likelihood of having a successful season may ride on the production of the tight ends. More useful weapons equals a much more prepared and equipped offense.

The way for them to reach their potential is by getting back to the basics. Cignetti has mentioned “simplifying” the playbook. An easy way to do this is by mastering the basics. That means working on their hands, becoming more reliable with blocking and understanding key route formations. If they can do this, the progression should come naturally.

As for the rest of the crew, currently the Rams have four other tight ends on the roster. Cory Harkey may not count to some since he is primarily the team’s starting fullback, but his original and situational position is tight end. He is likely to come back again this season due to his decent blocking ability, and he has improved his receiving game too. Expect to see more of him.

It’s not clear if the Rams plan on keeping an additional tight end but the current competition includes: Alex Bayer, Justice Cunningham and Brad Smelley. All three are first and second year players with limited playing experience. Cunningham has a slight edge for participating in some games from last season.

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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