The Rams probably do not require extra motivation as they prepare to make a run at repeating as Super Bowl champions.
But at least two starters have exactly that.
Tight end Tyler Higbee and safety Jordan Fuller suffered late-season injuries that prevented them from playing in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium.
Higbee is on his way back from knee surgery, and Fuller is progressing from ankle surgery as the Rams go through their offseason program.
Returning to the Super Bowl is the goal, Higbee said Tuesday during a videoconference with reporters.
“I was definitely fortunate to have played in one already,” said Higbee, who played in the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII loss to the New England Patriots in 2018, “but my mindset now is we have to go back so that I can play in one this year because I missed out. ”
Said Fuller: “Being a part of the game on the sideline was special – I can just imagine being on the field. I’m definitely motivated to get back there. ”
Fuller’s second season ended when he was injured during a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the regular-season finale.
On crutches and unable to travel easily, he watched playoff victories over the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 49ers from home on his couch.
“I was getting emotional at times,” he said. “It was rough, for sure, just sitting there while everybody’s celebrating and, I mean, you’re not there. And you put so much work in up to that point.
“So, I mean through like 17 games I was out there in the thick of things with them, and you kind of feel like you’re on the outside of it.”
Fuller said encouragement from teammates, coaches and family members helped him cope. He was on the sideline for the Super Bowl and celebrated with teammates, recounting a postgame exchange with safety Nick Scott.
“I’m like, ‘You did it, bro, you did it,'” Fuller said. “He was like, ‘Nah, bro. We did it. ‘ ”
Last week, Fuller traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in graduation ceremonies at Ohio State. Fuller earned his degree in business administration. But his focus, however, remains on preparing for on-field work and the upcoming season.
Higbee, preparing for his seventh season with the Rams, said he also was making strides in his comeback from an injury suffered in the NFC championship game victory over the 49ers.
“I was in a dark place there for a couple weeks, but getting a ring made it all better,” he said.
Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins stepped in for Higbee during the playoffs. Now they will add depth to a position group under the guidance of Thomas Brown, who coached running backs for two seasons.
Higbee said that going through the offseason with a Super Bowl title in tow has not changed the Rams’ attitude or approach.
“I see how it could be different,” he said, “but I think we have the right guys, the right leadership, the right coaching staff in this building.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.