Danny Amendola: How Star WRs Potential Return Helps Rams vs. 49ers

John RozumCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 26:  Danny Amendola #16 of the St. Louis Rams runs through a drill during warmups before the game against the New England Patriots on August 26, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Danny Amendola appears to be even closer in returning to the field for the St. Louis Rams.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Wide receiver Danny Amendola (sternoclavicular joint) and left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) practiced again Thursday, with a target of returning for the team’s next game — Nov. 11 in San Francisco.

“We’ll continue to evaluate them and see how they are,” Fisher said. “Danny’s obviously very optimistic about playing. I’d say he’s probably got a pretty good chance, but we’ll continue to work them back in.”

Certainly good news for Rams fans and those with Amendola in fantasy football as well. What also helps is St. Louis enjoying its bye during Week 9 with the San Francisco 49ers on deck.

To that end, let's check out how Amendola's potential return can impact the Rams' key divisional road game.


Pressing the Seam

When facing an aggressive yet disciplined defense such as San Francisco, an offense must attack downfield. Now, that doesn't mean just dropping Sam Bradford back and letting him rip one 40 or 50-plus yards to try and catch the 49ers sleeping back deep.

Although setting up for that comes from Amendola's ability to stretch down the seam. This area is extremely crucial to success because it's right behind the zoning linebacker and directly underneath the safety.

Instead of just darting toward the middle to split a Cover 2 or press a Cover 1 or 3, getting between the deeper zones on the side force a linebacker to get depth and widen simultaneously. With Bradford's arm, he can make this throw early on to catch the 'Niners off guard and then attack underneath.

This also forces any cornerback sinking in Cover 3 to acknowledge Amendola because that then opens up outside patterns at the intermediate level. More importantly, these types of routes don't always take five-to-seven steps.

Balance to Move the Chains

With 32 receptions for 395 yards in 2012, Amendola is one reliable target. He has caught 65.3 percent of the passes thrown his way and 19 of those 32 have gone for first downs (almost 60 percent).

Averaging 12.3 yards per snag, Amendola can obviously best any defender one-on-one and draw double coverage when heading downfield. This impact is so vital to St. Louis fielding a balanced attack because it's how the 49ers can be defeated.

We saw the New York Giants punish on the ground, and, although the Rams' line isn't Big Blue, a similar approach is required. Amendola simply makes linebackers aware of his presence at going over the middle and getting impressive yards after the catch.

That aspect alone will minimize the pressure put on Bradford as well as the number of times San Francisco blitzes. As a result, St. Louis can enjoy more success on the ground and set up the play-action.

Here, it's nothing fancy. Just execute the quick passes and take everything San Francisco's defense gives.

Pre-Snap Adjustments

This is an area where the impact of Amendola can protect his quarterback while taking advantage of the defense—this goes for any defense, not just the 49ers.

Because the Rams still remain suspect with pass protection and utilizing the passing game to set up the run, opponents will obviously attack early and often. Plus, the sooner a team disrupts the timing the sooner an offense becomes one-dimensional.

That said, reading the blitz pre-snap and calling an audible to a quick screen or slant can catch a defense off guard. Also, it's better if the adjustment occurs to the same side of the biltz because coverage won't have as much time to roll down or shift over without showing beforehand.

In addition, doing so allows the running backs to step up for extra pass protection and later on helps with in-game adjustments. One thing to keep in mind when lining up versus a blitzing defense is every time a blitz comes, that vacated area makes the coverage more vulnerable.


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