Candidates line up to replace Amendola as Rams' key weapon

Dan Arkush
Pro Football Weekly
Candidates line up to replace Amendola as Rams' key weapon

With WR Danny Amendola expected to miss 4-6 weeks after separating the SC joint in his right shoulder diving for a catch in the second quarter of the Rams’ Week Five victory over the Cardinals, it remains to be seen just who will step up in his place to shoulder the load in a clearly ailing offense.

A prime candidate would appear to be second-year TE Lance Kendricks, whose first-quarter TD catch vs. Arizona was the first TD for the offense in three games.

“He’s been playing very well,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said of Kendricks, who has displayed big-time flashes but has yet to break out into the dynamic weapon the team envisioned when they drafted him in the second round last season. “His blocking, I think that goes unnoticed, but I was happy that he was able to make that catch (against the Cardinals). … (Tight ends coach) Rob’s (Boras) working with him, doing a good job with him. It’s hard to take him off the field because of his ability.”

There are some close team observers, though, who wonder just how much more Kendricks will be involved in the offense minus Amendola, who had gotten off to a terrific start this season.

“They’ve been using him (Kendricks) more to block because of the problems on the offensive line,” said one team source. “That’s not going to change, so I don’t know if he’ll be getting any more opportunities.”

Three other possibilities as the Rams’ biggest offensive weapon in Amendola’s absence are rookie WR Chris Givens, who is considered the top candidate to start in place of Amendola opposite Brandon Gibson, and either ex-Giant Steve Smith or Austin Pettis, who are expected to share time in the slot, which is where Amendola was doing the majority of his damage.

“It’s Givens' time to shine,” the source said of the fourth-round rookie who had a 51-yard TD catch vs. the Cardinals. “He’s getting a lot more playing time, but he needs to be a lot more consistent catching shorter passes. Something tells me they will use Smith more in the slot than Pettis, although Smith hasn’t dressed the last two games, but I don’t know for sure.

“It will be interesting to see what they do there.”