Steve Smith is quickly rounding back into his old form at training camp. He needs to do that and more to move ahead among a crowded Rams receiving corps.
Replacing Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce has been a struggle in St. Louis. The Rams haven't featured a 1,000-yard receiver since "Big Game" hauled in 93 passes for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns in 2007.
St. Louis has spent nine draft picks on the position since then. So far, no one has caught on as an elite target. The drought leaves the Rams well behind in a league that has seen the passing game evolve to record-breaking levels over those past five years.
Suddenly, however, St. Louis seems to be overflowing with receiver talent.
Danny Amendola's history and rapport with Sam Bradford has pushed him to the front of the pack early in training camp. Missing nearly all of 2011 isn't keeping him off the fast track to return to his team-leading levels of 2010. He is the team's clear No. 1 receiving target right now.
Steve Smith looks fully recovered from his micro-fracture surgery and close to his 2009 Pro Bowl form.
Even though Brian Quick continues to draw gaudy expectations because of his size, fellow rookie Chris Givens looks like the more polished receiver early on because of his speed.
Brandon Gibson is doing everything he can to not be forgotten in this suddenly heated competition. He may be turning in the best training camp for a receiver not named Amendola, highlighted by a spectacular performance at the team's recent scrimmage inside the Edward Jones Dome.
Greg Salas is also turning in consistent training camp performances. His early contributions would be more than enough to secure a roster spot during any other year over the past half-decade. Salas needs to continue to rise, however, to avoid the roster bubble in this crowded receiving corps.
Denario Alexander clearly has the talent to be a solid NFL target. He, too, may run out of chances if he can't quickly prove that his checkered injury history is a thing of the past.
Verdict: Amendola, Quick and Givens are the only locks to make the 53-man roster. Smith and Gibson have the early edge on the remaining spots, but don't count out Salas or Alexander. Austin Pettis needs to make a big impression soon because he looks to be at the bottom of the pecking order right now.