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Rams 2nd Rounder Kendricks Turning Heads

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TE Lance Kendricks at Rams Training Camp 2011 (Getty/Dilip Vishwanat)

TE Lance Kendricks at Rams Training Camp 2011 (Getty/Dilip Vishwanat)

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — While the St. Louis Rams wait for top pick Robert Quinn to recover from a knee injury, their second-rounder is fitting in nicely.

Tight end Lance Kendricks has been working with the first unit.

The former Wisconsin star said coming out of a complicated system in college has helped him pick up new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ playbook pretty quickly. He has both size and speed at 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds and with a 4.49 40-yard dash time, so could stretch defenses from the middle of the field.

“I’m kind of used to the terminology and lingo. They’re kind of the same, so I try to take the similarities and apply them,” McDaniels said.

The Rams’ top pass-catching tight end last season, Daniel Fells, signed with the Broncos. Quarterback Sam Bradford’s favorite target this summer was Billy Bajema, given both are from Oklahoma City, but Bajema is more of a blocking tight end with only 14 receptions last season.

Kendricks has the potential to be both, and more. Already in training camp, he’s also lined up at fullback and in the slot.

“Kind of like I did in college. I’m used to that, which is good,” Kendricks said. “I’m picking up the offense a lot better than I thought I would.”

Not acting much like a rookie, either.

“I’m trying not to get nervous or anything, just get out there and act like it’s college all over again and just be calm,” Kendricks said. “That’s how you do it.”

Bradford has been impressed with Kendrick’s energy level and his physical play.

“I think he’s probably taken more reps than anyone in our offense,” Bradford said. “It seems like every time I look out there he’s in there.”

Coach Steve Spagnuolo said earlier in the week that Quinn, a defensive end from North Carolina who was the 14th pick of the draft, could be on the field soon. Quinn injured the right knee earlier this summer.

“I think the knee’s coming around, there’s a little bit of conditioning we’ve got left to do,” Spagnuolo said after practice Tuesday night. “He’s chomping at the bit to go, but we’re kind of pulling him back now.”

Before training camp, McDaniels said he might have to scale back things at the start and ease players into an offense they’ve never run because of the lockout. The lack of two-a-days is another reason.

“I think we’ve got to try to force them to learn, and they want to learn,” McDaniels said. “We’ll push and see how quickly they can learn and pick it up, and if we need to halt things a little bit then we’ll do it.”

McDaniels didn’t think training camp would necessarily be a lot more difficult for young players.

“I think that they’ll learn what we want to do here and hopefully pick it up quickly,” McDaniels said. “To me, they’re all new, so I’ve got that advantage in terms of looking at them with a fresh set of eyes, seeing what they can do and hopefully putting them in a great position to succeed.”

Kendricks’ college numbers weren’t eye-popping, just 62 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns as an occasional threat at a school that’s a lot bigger on the run. Wisconsin averaged 221 yards rushing last season, but Kendricks had back-to-back 100-yard games as a senior against Arizona State and Austin Peay.

Perhaps the biggest challenge thus far for Kendricks has been the heat and humidity. The temperature was in triple digits for the first full-pad workout Monday.

“If I had to say anything about it, it would have to be perseverance,” Kendricks said. “You’ve got to come out here with your mind right and ready to go. Definitely an eye-opener.”

Copyright Associated Press

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