Los Angeles Rams underrated player in Super Bowl LVI: TE Kendall Blanton
Kendall Blanton was a complete no-name in the NFL until about three weeks ago when he scored his first NFL touchdown in the divisional round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blanton followed that up with a fantastic performance in the NFC Championship when the Rams starting tight end Tyler Higbee went down with a knee injury in the first quarter.
While there was some optimism that Higbee would return in the Super Bowl from the knee injury he sustained in the NFC Championship, the Rams just waived the white flag on the prospect of Higbee playing by placing him on Injured Reserve this afternoon.
In the NFC Championship, Blanton had five catches for 57 yards and three first downs and showed he could be a capable target for Matthew Stafford when it matters.
Blanton could significantly impact this game because of the level the Cinncinati Bengals secondary has been playing throughout this playoffs. The Bengals absolutely shut down the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the AFC Championship.
While the Rams are extremely good at scheming their receivers open, the Bengals will stop Cooper Kupp from having the impact he usually has. Behind Kupp, the Rams still have Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson, but where they could see Blanton really has an effect. Blanton is a big target who has a knack for getting first downs. So far in his career, 64% of Blantons receptions have gone for first downs.
Stafford loses both a reliable third down and red zone target without Higbee. If Blanton steps up, it not only could help Stafford but even open things up for Kupp and Beckham Jr. even more.
It is unique that the players I chose will likely match up quite a bit in the game, but it could change the game. Blanton has been a first-down machine in the playoffs, and if that continues, the Rams will be hard to stop with all their offensive weapons. If Pratt can help slow down Blanton and guys like Cooper Kupp and Cam Akers, the Bengals will be in a much better position to stop the Rams’ offense.
Sure we all know the big names who will step on the field Sunday, but these two guys have the potential to impact the game as much as anyone else. Both of their teams likely will not be able to win unless they perform to the level they have these playoffs.