(Eds: With AP Photos.)|
By WARREN MAYES
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two tight ends could start the opener for the St. Louis Rams, which does not necessarily detract from the big-play potential on offense.
Jared Cook, the team's top free-agent pickup, and Lance Kendricks both can stretch the field.
Cook signed a five-year, $35.1-million deal in the offseason. At 6-foot-5, Cook adds speed to the Rams along with the ability to go up for a pass. He is now reunited with Rams coach Jeff Fisher after playing his first two seasons under Fisher with the Tennessee Titans.
The 6-foot-3 Kendricks was a second-round draft pick by the Rams in 2011. Kendricks opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list after having minor surgery on his right knee. He has returned to practice and will play in Sunday's opener at home against Arizona.
The two figure to be a big part in the offense this year and they are looking forward to it.
``This (offense) is going to be a lot more opened up,'' Cook said. ``There will be more effort to involve everybody. It's an offense where you're going to see everybody's talents, which is the most exciting thing. There's a lot of speed.''
Kendricks said he thinks this offense can produce.
``We need to come out of the gate swinging,'' said Kendricks, who has 70 catches and four touchdowns in his two seasons with St. Louis. ``There's a lot of big expectations for this offense this year. We have the right people to do it. We have to be able to go out there on game day and do it. We can do it in practice all we want but where it counts is on the field in a game.''
Quarterback Sam Bradford said he is happy to have Cook and Kendricks to throw to along with wide receivers Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and rookie Tavon Austin.
``It's great to have Lance back out there. He's a great player,'' Bradford said. ``Everyone saw what he was able to do last year both in the passing game and his blocking ability in the run game. So, to have him back and now be able to put him and Jared on the field at the same time, that's going to be a really tough group for defenses to try to defend.''
It's likely Cook will be used like he was with Tennessee and line up in the slot receiver position as well as on the line. With his size and speed, he is able to create mismatches. Kendricks also can move around as well as play on the line as a blocker.
Cook has 131 catches in four years. He averages 13.1 yards a game and has eight touchdown receptions. His biggest year with the Titans came in 2009 when he had 49 receptions.
``It's a new city, a new town for me,'' Cook said. ``It's my opportunity to showcase my skills and it's something that I've been fighting for the last four years. It's going to be a fun time. You've got to work your way up the system and I've got my opportunity here.''
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who is in his second year with the Rams, is excited about the possibilities this offense has.
``We're thrilled that we have the guys we have. The young guys, the new guys have all picked it up really, really well,'' Schottenheimer said. ``But again, this is just one step. It'll be nice to actually have a game plan in place and be able to show things that you want to do, things that we've been doing against our defense all summer.''
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