St. Louis Rams' fans were spoiled by "The Greatest Show on Turf."
Those Rams' teams were explosive, fast paced and fun to watch. The biggest problem those Rams teams had on offense was that Kurt Warner had only one football to share among so many weapons.
Marshall Faulk gave way to Steven Jackson. Issac Bruce got older and left via free agency. Torry Holt soon followed him, just like the Rams' passing game.
As we approach the 2012 season, the Rams are still trying to replace those great players.
With Sam Bradford entering his third season, somebody needs to step up. The Rams have drafted several receivers and brought in other free agents. Today I'm going to try to break down the battle for playing time that's about to go down at training camp.
Here is how I see the rankings as of today.
10. Mike Campbell
The rookie out of Temple is fighting for a roster spot. He's not the big (6'1", 203 pounds), and he's not that fast (4.53). He only caught 45 passes last season at Temple, so he didn't really set the world on fire. He sounds a whole lot like Brandon Gibson to me. Speaking of Gibson...
9. Brandon Gibson
Brandon Gibson has a ton of experience over the last two seasons with the Rams. He has the most reps with Sam Bradford, and he can stay healthy. Those are both big pluses that he has going for him.
Other than that, just let the game film speak for itself. Gibson was on a team that for two straight years was begging for help at receiver! He had a lot of opportunities to carve out a spot for himself. He didn't get the job done.
He will get cut barring some unforeseen injuries to the guys in front of him.
8. Nick Johnson
The rookie out of Henderson State is an intriguing player. He's not that big (5'11", 190 pounds), but he runs a 4.42 in the 40 and is an explosive player. The Rams will already be keeping two other rookies, so keeping a third rookie in Johnson would be a stretch.
However, this kid could be a diamond in the rough. It's an uphill battle for him to make the team, but it's not impossible.
7. Danario Alexander
I know DX is a big fan favorite, but he just can't stay healthy.
He is a big play threat, but so many things have to go right for him to make this team. With at least four high quality players in front of him who can be very productive in the passing game, I don't see DX making it.
Because of his injury history, he has no special teams value, and this will also hurt him when it comes time to make cuts.
6. Austin Pettis
I know a lot of Rams' fans are probably throwing stuff at their keyboards, but I really think Pettis will make the team. I know he has a lot working against him, with the two-game suspension and the massive disappointment he was as a rookie third-round pick. I know Les Snead didn't draft Pettis, and doesn't owe him a thing. I know all of that.
I also know the Rams cut Dominique Curry, who was a good special teams player. The Rams will probably keep a sixth receiver, and if that guy can play special teams, it is going to really help his chances. Pettis is fearless. Remember his punt returns last year? He was never afraid—sometimes even at his own detriment—to play special teams.
Pettis has a good chance to make the final roster.
5. Greg Salas
I could see Salas moving up this list, or getting cut. That's life in the NFL. Salas had a very good rookie season, but a broken leg cut that season short. Now Salas enters his second season playing for a new coach and a GM that didn't draft him.
Salas will have to prove himself all over again. I think he is tough, and he did a good job in the slot last season. If he can continue to catch the ball consistently, he provides value as a possession receiver.
4. Chris Givens
I think Givens could end up being anywhere from second to fifth on this list in 2012. Givens is definitely a home run threat with his speed. However, he is also very quick in and out of breaks, and is a good route runner.
I think he'll be good for a couple big plays every week, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Givens has a couple of games where he is one of the best players on the field. He gives the Rams a chance to cause matchup problems against teams without depth in their secondary.
3. Danny Amendola
Injured for almost the entire 2011 season, Amendola should provide the Rams with the same consistent play this season that he did two years ago.
Amendola is tough, he gets open and he has great hands. I think his overall production might take a slight dip, just because the Rams have more talent and more options to catch the ball. However, Amendola is still one of the most valuable receivers on the roster.
2. Steve Smith
Here is a guy I'm rooting for to be the Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL.
Smith led the NFL and set a Giants' franchise record with 107 catches in 2009, and he was only 24 years old!
Smith has struggled through most of the last two seasons because of injuries, but he if he is healthy, he should be entering the prime of his career. He is a valuable possession receiver, and like Amendola, he can get open on those short passes that should really help Bradford's completion percentage and confidence. I think Smith will lead the Rams in catches, and he could lead the team in receiving yards also.
1. Brian Quick
The Rams didn't draft Quick to sit on the sidelines. He is the biggest, most athletic receiver on the roster. He might have a bit of a learning curve coming out of a small college, but if you have Quick's kind of talent, it doesn't matter where you went to school.
I think Quick will have a very productive rookie season. I think he will lead the team in receiving touchdowns, and he could also have a shot to lead the team in receiving yards.