The St. Louis Rams are preparing to be without leading receiver Danny Amendola for possibly the next six weeks, and one player who might be able to help them through the recovery process is veteran Steve Smith.
Smith, a former Pro Bowler with the New York Giants, has been a healthy scratch the last two games as the Rams' sixth receiver. With Amendola on the shelf, Smith should be back on the active 46-man roster.
Smith's new role could mirror what Amendola did in the slot for the Rams.
With the Giants, Smith made his receiving mark by being Eli Manning's right-hand man in the slot. He caught over 200 passes for 2,400 yards over a three-year stretch, mostly coming from an inside position in the Giants' offense.
Amendola quickly became a major part of the Rams' offense by doing his best Wes Welker impression for Sam Bradford. Through three-and-a-half games, Amendola caught an NFL-high 32 passes on 49 targets for 395 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 2, Amendola caught a season-high 15 passes for 160 yards.
Smith won't come close to matching that kind of production, but the Rams do need Smith to contribute from the slot.
Second-year player Austin Pettis is the Rams' only other viable option to replace Amendola on the inside. While Pettis was active against the Cardinals, he caught just one pass for six yards after Amendola went out.
Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson will take over a bigger role as the outside receiver, with 2012 draft pick Brian Quick also contributing.
But Smith's role will be making up for Amendola's absence. It's a big hole he won't be able to completely fill, but Bradford and the Rams' offense needs continued production from that position.