5 St. Louis Rams Players Who Will Surprise in Training Camp
Training camp is right around the corner for the St. Louis Rams.
They’ve already got an up-and-coming defense, led by James Laurinaitis, Chris Long and Cortland Finnegan. They also have young talent expected to make a splash on that side of the ball and propel them into the top third of the league in players like Alec Ogletree and T.J. McDonald.
The Rams' offense has been lagging behind for years now, but it has finally received a major overhaul. Two high-profile arrivals—former Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook and former West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin—are supposed to get most of the opposition’s defensive attention.
Everyone else on the Rams' offense should make opposing defenses pay for focusing on Cook and Austin.
At this stage of his career, Isaiah Pead should surprise exactly no one if he turns in a phenomenal training camp. Although rookie running backs usually fare better than their counterparts at most other positions and Pead didn’t exactly enjoy his rookie 2012 season, he’s still a former second-round pick.
He just had limited opportunities as a first-year player.
Brian Quick, WR
One of three 2012 St. Louis Rams second-round selections, wide receiver Brian Quick had a rookie season that was somewhere between that of cornerback Janoris Jenkins and running back Isaiah Pead in terms of success.
Jenkins stood out by leading the NFL in defensive touchdowns while Pead merely carried the ball 10 times.
Quick was targeted 28 times in his first year, catching 11 passes (39.3 percent) for 156 yards (14.2 average), six first downs and two touchdowns. He’s still the Rams’ No. 4 wideout, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
On one hand, it would be no major shock if newcomers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey saw more snaps in 2013. They were, after all, two of college football’s most productive players in 2012.
On the other hand, Quick is gifted. Despite coming from a small school, he was drafted to be that No. 1 guy. He should look a little more like it this offseason, as most receivers seem to get their legs under them in their second or third seasons.
Austin Pettis, WR
Part of the reason why Brian Quick was on the sideline so much last year was the play of former Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis. Although he is still only 25, Pettis was the oldest St. Louis Rams receiver to catch a pass last season, but he isn’t being relegated to bench duty quietly.
In his quest to become a household name, Pettis made local headlines at OTAs, as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer pointed out to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
He’s probably having the best camp of all the skill players […] He’s just a tireless worker. Very competitive….He’s having a tremendous spring.
Stedman Bailey, WR
Stedman Bailey could be one of those players whose draft position shocks us in five or six years down the road. It’s not like he came from a tiny program that no one had ever heard of before.
Rather, Bailey was catching balls at West Virginia, where plenty of eyes were on the Mountaineeers' offensive machine led by quarterback Geno Smith and flanked by Bailey and Tavon Austin.
Bailey’s absurd 25 receiving touchdowns in 2012 were the most by any pass-catcher since Troy Edwards’ 1998 season (27) at Louisiana Tech. Randy Moss (26) is the only other wide receiver to record more.
That’s the whole list. Both Edwards (13th in 1999) and Moss (21st in 1998) were first-round picks. The same applies to current NFL veterans Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald, who notched 22 scores apiece in 2007 and 2003, respectively.
Bailey was taken at No. 92 in 2013.
Barrett Jones, OL
We don’t yet know who’s going to start at left guard for the St. Louis Rams in Week 1. However, what we do know is that Rokevious Watkins is suspended for the contest, so that will temporarily take him out of the running.
There’s a lot of competition at that position, brought on by the likes of Chris Williams, Smith, Watkins and rookie Barrett Jones.
Maybe the coaching staff will feel the versatile former Alabama blocker is better served as a primary backup to the three interior offensive line positions. He’d probably enjoy starting next to Jake Long and Scott Wells a little bit more, though.
Daryl Richardson, RB
Given his smaller frame of 5’10”, 196 pounds and pronounced ability to find the edge in the running game, Daryl Richardson has been billed as a third-down back by some observers.
The numbers, meanwhile, prove otherwise.
Not only did the St. Louis Rams use him almost as much on first down as they did on second down and third down put together, but Richardson also averaged 5.2 yards per carry in those situations. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry for the season overall.
With Steven Jackson gone to the Atlanta Falcons, don’t expect Richardson to immediately concede early-down work to a bigger rusher.