Avery's injury changes picture at wide receiver
BY BILL COATS Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 10:00 pm

The competition at wide receiver has an added dimension now that first-teamer Donnie Avery is out for the season. Avery suffered a torn ligament in his right knee Thursday night in the Rams' 36-35 preseason victory at New England.

"They'll let it calm down, and then at some point he will have surgery," coach Steve Spagnuolo said Friday. "He was having a terrific game. Donnie's a quality guy and a character guy, and we'll miss him."

Avery, the Rams' second-round draft pick in 2008, has two-year totals of 100 catches, 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns.

In addition to deciding on the five or six wideouts among the nine who are vying for spots on the final roster, the coaches now have to find a replacement opposite the other starter, Laurent Robinson.

"Probably between Danny (Amendola) and Mardy Gilyard, and a couple of the guys we could flip over there (such as) Keenan Burton," Spagnuolo said. "We're going to wait a little bit before we declare any of that, but certainly somebody's going to have to step up there."

Spagnuolo didn't rule out finding wide receiver help outside the organization.

"We're always looking for players; (general manager Billy Devaney) has been on top of that and will continue to do it," Spagnuolo said. "But I can't go on a ghost body right now, so I'm just going to go with the players we have here."

In addition to Amendola, Gilyard, Burton and Robinson, the remaining wideouts are Danario Alexander, Dominique Curry, Brandon Gibson, Jordan Kent and Brandon McRae.

good feeling

It's not really much of a winning 'streak." And it is the preseason, after all. Still, the back-to-back to wins over the Browns and Patriots are welcome developments for a team coming off a 1-15 season.

"Any time you win, I think it helps you confidence-wise, as long as you keep it in perspective. It is a preseason game," Spagnuolo said. "But it's good to win, and I think it's great the way we did win. We came out really well, then we let them get back in it, then we kicked a field goal to win it at the end."

Spagnuolo also pointed out that Pats coach Bill Belichick kept his first-team offense on the field into the fourth quarter, while the Rams went almost exclusively with reserves after halftime.

"And we were still battling with them," Spagnuolo said. "I think that was a credit to some of our guys that were preparing on the sideline to go in in the second half of the game."

Sloppy start

The most obvious blemish on the performance was the 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff by the Pats' Brandon Tate. The Rams' coverage in the first two preseason games had been pretty good.

"There was a double-team that they hit real effectively. We had a couple of guys not get off blocks, and our safety that was to plug in there didn't make the play," Spagnuolo said. "I give them credit in the way they blocked it. We've got to do a better job covering it."

going for two

NFL coaches generally avoid the prospect of overtime in a preseason game like the plague. But when the Rams scored on Keith Toston's 2-yard run, cutting New England's lead to 35-33 with 4 minutes remaining, Spagnuolo didn't hesitate to go for the tie.

"The competitive juices get flowing. And our guys were on the sideline ... we wanted to win the football game," Spagnuolo said. "It worked out pretty good. We didn't have to get any extra plays there in overtime and ended up coming away with a win."

The two-point conversion pass failed, but the Rams stopped the Patriots and won it on a 37-yard field goal by Josh Brown as time expired.