The “next man up” mantra has been uttered for years in the NFL.Players that are considered backups are told to be mentally and physically prepared to contribute at any moment.Kendall Blanton’s moment came in last night’s NFC title game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers.In the first half of the contest, Tyler Higbee — the starting tight end for the Rams — exited the game with a knee injury and was ruled out to begin the second half.
With Blanton being the only other right end on the roster, he logged 61 offensive snaps (79% of the team’s offensive snaps).And while some may have expected him to be tasked with a strictly run-blocking role, the Rams utilized Blanton in the passing game and he was highly effective.Blanton finished Sunday’s victory with five receptions for 57 yards, which were both personal bests for the third-year tight end.
The Missouri product had six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown in his other 13 appearances this season, with his first career touchdown coming in last week’s divisional-round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He even had more catches and yards than star tight end George Kittle, who caught just two passes for 27 yards in the 49ers’ loss.You never know when your number is going to be called and Blanton made the most of his opportunity against the 49ers, making crucial plays to help the Rams advance to the Super Bowl.
One of those plays came at the end of the third quarter when Los Angeles designed a flea-flicker that developed into a screen to Blanton, which is a play design that I can personally say I’ve never seen.Stafford to Blanton for 20-yds ends the quarter #49ers 17 #Rams 7 End of Q3 pic.twitter.com/889uJf7Iba The screen to Blanton helped set the Rams up for a touchdown to begin the fourth quarter, fueling their 10-point comeback to defeat their NFC West rivals.
Even though it would be nice to have Higbee back in time for the Super Bowl versus the Cincinnati Bengals, at least the Rams know they can rely on Blanton to step up if need be.Rams’ Raheem Morris and Kevin O’Connell are finalists to be Vikings’ head coach Andrew Whitworth rips Joe Staley over tweet that’s ’embarrassing for our game’ Odell Beckham Jr.showed class by consoling Deebo Samuel during Rams’ celebration Jaguars botch chance to interview Kevin O’Connell, now have to wait until after Super Bowl Watch highlights from Rams’ thrilling playoff win vs.49ers.