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Rams tight end Brycen Hopkins named emerging talent by The Athletic

Is Hopkins ready to show that he’s the heir apparent to Tyler Higbee?

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams wrap up their preseason on Saturday when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Throughout the first two preseason games, a handful of players have stood out. One of those players is tight end Brycen Hopkins.

Hopkins led the Rams against the Houston Texans with a team-high six catches for 41 yards. He also had a catch in the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. The former fourth round pick out of Purdue seems to have picked up right where he left off in the Super Bowl. In the biggest game of his career, Hopkins finished with four receptions for 47 yards.

The Rams tight end has continued that momentum into this offseason as he has been impressive throughout training camp. After the Texans game, the Rams cut tight end Kendall Blanton, setting up Hopkins for the TE2 role behind Tyler Higbee.

On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Nate Tice released a list of players that he thought has been asked to play tangible reps during the 2022 preseason and made the most of their opportunities. On that list was Hopkins. Here’s was Tice had to say,

“The owner of one target over his first 13 regular-season and playoff games before making four catches in the Super Bowl, Hopkins converted three of those Super Bowl catches into first downs. His continued progress as a player has been rewarded by the Rams, who waived tight end Kendall Blanton and cleared a path for Hopkins to see more playing time in 2022.

This preseason, the Rams have aligned the athletic Hopkins across the formation — 24 percent of Hopkins’ 50 preseason snaps have come split out as an outside option. And Hopkins has shown reliable hands, solid inline blocking and an improving route tree (including a target on an angle route, which is typically reserved for a team’s craftier route runners).

Hopkins likely will play more than the 59 snaps he saw through all of the ’21 regular season. He is starting to blossom, with more attention from Sean McVay and the Rams coming his way.”

Hopkins journey thus far is nothing special while also being somewhat impressive. He was inactive for nine of his first 10 career games and only played two offensive snaps as a rookie. As the Rams developed Hopkins into more of a blocking tight end, he saw the majority of his snaps come on special teams.

Last season, Hopkins finally had his first career catch late in the season against the Seattle Seahawks. He was active against the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs, but inactive for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Hopkins returned to the active list for the Super Bowl and had the best game of his career.

By cutting Blanton earlier this week, the Rams will be thin at tight end in 2022. However, it seems like Hopkins is ready to take on more responsibility in the offense. As Tice notes, Hopkins has lined up everywhere across the formation this preseason and has significantly improved his route running.

Sean McVay and the Rams typically like to work young players into their roles slowly to help them develop. It looks like 2022 might be Hopkins’ year to take that next step in his career.