But the NFC champions are now certain to be without Tyler Higbee and backup offensive lineman Joe Noteboom. The Rams placed both on IR to make room for Henderson and Joseph-Day. The sprained MCL Higbee suffered in the NFC championship game prevented him from practicing this week.
While the Bengals are likely to see C.J. Uzomah return to action after his championship-round injury, the Rams will be forced to use backups. Kendall Blanton and second-year cog Brycen Hopkins are the only other active-roster tight ends for Los Angeles. The former made key contributions against the 49ers, catching five passes for 57 yards. This came after Blanton scored a touchdown against the Buccaneers. Higbee’s absence will move Blanton into a key auxiliary role in the passing game.
This would have been Higbee’s second Super Bowl. He played against the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII but did not catch a pass. This season, the Rams turned to Higbee more frequently, having let Gerald Everett walk in free agency. Higbee finished with 61 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Noteboom has served as Andrew Whitworth‘s backup for the past two seasons. He stepped in for the 40-year-old left tackle starter against the Bucs but did not play in the NFC championship game. A chest injury will wrap Noteboom’s season early. A 2018 third-round pick, Noteboom is set to be a free agent next month. Whitworth returned for the 49ers matchup and will make his Super Bowl debut Sunday.
Henderson also suffered an MCL sprain and has not played since Week 16. While the third-year running back started for most of this season, his role almost certainly will be minimized upon return. Sony Michel had begun to eat into Henderson’s workload late in the season, and Cam Akers has since made his return to action. Still, the Rams will soon have a deep backfield for Super Bowl LVI. It will be the first time Henderson, Akers and Michel will each be available.
Joseph-Day has not played since Week 7, having suffered a chest injury that required surgery. The third-year interior D-lineman has been a Rams starter for most of his career. Prior to going down in October, Joseph-Day had registered a career-high three sacks. This stands to bolster L.A.’s depth up front and present an embattled Bengals offensive line with another challenge.