Rams are hoping injured tight end Tyler Higbee will be able to play in Super Bowl
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee suffered a sprained knee ligament in the NFC championship game victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and his status for the Super Bowl is uncertain, coach Sean McVay indicated Monday.
“We’re working through some different avenues,” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters. “He’s such a tough guy, we’re going to do everything in our power to try and get this guy back and ready to go.
“But we are working through some things.”
Higbee, one of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s main targets, was injured Sunday during the first quarter of the Rams’ 20-17 victory at SoFi Stadium. The victory put the Rams in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2018.
Cooper Kupp said Monday that “it didn’t look good” when he saw Higbee leave the field, but he did not rule out that he might return to the game.
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“Higbee’s so tough, he’s played through so many things, you never know if you’re going to see Big-Rig Higs trotting back onto the field again,” Kupp said.
Kendall Blanton stepped into Higbee’s role and caught five passes for 57 yards. His reception on what played out as a flea-flicker screen pass produced 20 yards. On the next play, he had a nine-yard reception that helped set up a touchdown.
“Kendall might not have gotten as many reps as Higbee did this last week, but mentally he was dialed into the right stuff, he knew what he needed to do,” Kupp said. “So, when his opportunity did come, he was able to go in there and execute. He did a great job for us.”
It was the second time in as many games that Blanton played well.
In the Rams’ 30-27 divisional-round victory over the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Blanton caught his first touchdown pass.
Blanton, 6 foot 6 and 265 pounds, is the son of former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jerry Blanton. Signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2019 after playing at Missouri, Blanton spent most of his first three seasons on the practice squad but got an opportunity to play after Johnny Mundt suffered a season-ending knee injury in October.
“I’ve always dreamed of and worked to be in this position, prayed to be in this position, so I hoped that guys like me all around the league would get opportunity and get a shot,” Blanton said last week. “I’m not going to wish injury on anybody. Johnny Mundt is my guy — that’s my guy through thick and thin.
Matthew Stafford was among the Rams who made big plays in the fourth quarter to clinch a Super Bowl bid, but Sean McVay still made some curious calls.
“But I hoped for a chance and I got one. Just like every other person whether you’re drafted or not. I feel like we all just want a chance and an opportunity. So, I always hoped that I would get one and hoped that I would make big plays on the biggest of stages.”
Now, if Higbee is sidelined or limited for Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, Blanton might again play a major role in place of a player who is a “tone-setter and energy-giver” for the offense, offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said.
“When he went out, it was definitely a blow,” Whitworth said of Higbee, “but it’s one of those things where you’re also proud of a young guy, in Kendall standing in there and to take it on and realize what a big moment he was in, and step up big in that moment and be productive for us.
The average ticket price for Super Bowl LVI between the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium is $10,540. And that doesn’t include parking.
“So, I think that makes you feel really good to see a guy progress that way.”
Safety Taylor Rapp, who has been sidelined since the start of the playoffs because of a concussion, “is looking like he’s turning the corner in a positive way,” McVay said. No decision has been made on the status of running back Darrell Henderson, defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and cornerback Robert Rochell, but “there’s definitely a possibility” that they could be activated to the roster, McVay said. All are being evaluated after spending time on injured reserve.
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