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Super Bowl LVI: 5 Under-the-Radar Players to Watch

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Eric Weddle, Los Angeles Rams

Eric Weddle didn't even join the Rams until the start of the playoffs and now the veteran safety could play a key role in helping them win the Super Bowl

For a game between two franchises that have combined to win one Super Bowl, these two teams have quite the star power. 

Look no further than quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford turning around their team's fortunes and their star receivers, Ja'Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp. That's before mentioning defensive stars like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.

But they're not the only players who will determine the winner of Super Bowl LVI. There are also the lesser-known players, the ones who weren't on your fantasy teams and whose jerseys you won't see at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

Some, like David Tyree, go from no-name to household name. Others, like Nick Foles, become heroes to a city. Every game has its unlikely protagonist, and these five players could become the next name on that list.

Andrew Whitworth, LT, Rams

With Tom Brady's retirement, Whitworth, 40, became the oldest active player in the NFL. Of course, this could be his last NFL game, and what a way to go out this would be. Plus, Brady previously stopped the veteran left tackle from winning his first title in 2019 when the Patriots topped the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. But even in his fifth decade, Whitworth remains one of the top offensive linemen in the league. Grading out as the fifth-best tackle by PFF, he has only allowed five sacks (with six penalties) in 926 snaps this season. Can he put together one more great performance to stop the red-hot Trey Hendrickson and claim his first ring?

Related: 5 Reasons Why the Los Angeles Rams Will Win Super Bowl LVI

C.J. Uzomah, TE, Bengals

Plenty of attention goes to the trio of receivers Cincinnati has spent first- or second-round draft picks on, but Uzomah has been a key part of the offense, especially lately. During his last two regular-season games and first two postseason games, he caught 22 of his 27 targets for 203 yards and a touchdown. However, he did go down with a sprained MCL in his left knee in the AFC title game and missed practice all last week while rehabbing the knee. He expects to play but is questionable at best. The Bengals may need him to play — and play effectively — since his replacement, Drew Sample, hauled in just one pass for four yards in his stead.

Eric Weddle, S, Rams

Weddle was not supposed to be in this game, let alone the NFL this season. The 37-year-old last played in 2019 and was only coaxed out of retirement in January when Rams safety Jordan Fuller was ruled out for the season with an ankle injury and Taylor Rapp was in concussion protocol. While Weddle has graded out as a borderline starter by PFF, he's improved steadily and led the team with nine tackles in the NFC Championship Game while playing all 51 defensive snaps. Stopping Cincinnati's dynamic passing attack will be far more challenging than stopping San Francisco, though, and he would really stand to benefit if Rapp can return, as expected, to take some pressure off.

Logan Wilson, LB, Bengals

The Rams remain one of the most play-action-heavy teams in the league, which leaves a lot of responsibility on opposing linebackers' shoulders to read the play. And the Bengals have struggled against play-action this year, allowing 8.63 yards per play, which ranks 28th. Cincinnati runs a lot of nickel with only two linebackers, and Wilson, the second-year man out of Wyoming, is the best of a thin group. Wilson isn't too dangerous in the backfield — he had just 6 TFLs, a sack, and a forced fumble in the regular season — but he could have his hands full in coverage, where running backs Cam Akers and Sony Michel could be targetted. And that's where Wilson has thrived, with five interceptions, including one in the Divisional Round.

Related: 5 Reasons Why the Cincinnati Bengals Will Win Super Bowl LVI

Kendall Blanton, TE, Rams

Los Angeles also has health issues at tight end, as Tyler Higbee (knee) has been ruled out. And because the Rams mostly run 11 formation (one running back, one tight end), they haven't seen much of their backups this season. Brycen Hopkins only has one target, while Blanton at least has made the most of his few opportunities. In the last two playoff games, Blanton has caught all seven balls thrown his way for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have given up the fifth-most yardage to tight ends (1,083) and tied for the sixth-most touchdowns (eight) during the regular season, so Blanton could be in for a surprise performance.