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Big Game Headed for Another Big Season
Thursday, December 8, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
Player after player, receiver after receiver crosses into the end zone, setting off a display of celebrations with each player seemingly trying to outdo the other with a celebration more over the top than the one before it.
But Holt pays no mind to the creative jigs or not-so-creative spikes. He is focused on the task at hand, getting his weekly massage and taking care of his tools. By tools of course he means the legs that allow him to outrun almost any defensive back in the league and the hands that often times appear to have been manicured with Elmer’s Glue.
With so many of today’s NFL players focusing their celebrations on themselves, many times copping desperate pleas for attention with something so crazy or ridiculous that nobody can take them seriously, here lies Holt with no cares in the world aside from getting the tools shined and sharpened for another week of practice.
“I know Torry, I think really well after seven years,” coach Mike Martz said. “Torry talks about it with me sometimes. Torry is happy with who he is. He doesn’t need any notoriety. He loves to play. You’ve seen him in practice; he’s like a little kid running around here. He just loves to play. He doesn’t care about the attention, the notoriety, the commercials, or special spots on him or any of those things. Those are fine. That’s good. I think those are good for the National Football League. That’s not who Torry is, he could care less about that stuff.”
Me as in Team
Make no mistake, Holt loves a good celebration as much as the next guy, but the only use of the word me that Holt would ever use is when it’s in the form of the second and fourth letters of the word team.
On occasion you might see Holt work in an end zone dance (he’s been known to do the cabbage patch), but generally any celebrating he does comes only with the company of his teammates. Take the Bob ‘n’ Weave from the Greatest Show on Turf days for example or what is simply known as the “Jump” that he and his teammates do now.
Holt could easily use individual celebrations to pump his reputation like so many other receivers in the league have done, but that’s not who he is and that’s not what he is about.
“I’m here to be sure that I uphold my end of the bargain to this team of doing what I am supposed to do to continue to help this ball club win games,” Holt said. “I definitely have my individual stats and performance that I want to reach, but at the same time I want to help this ball club win games too.”
Therein lies the ultimate force that drives Holt. While other receivers go out looking to score touchdowns in bunches and gain yards by the bushel and complain when they don’t, Holt only truly cares about one statistic: wins.
Nobody knows better than Holt that without the help of his teammates and coaches, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
And where he is today is amongst an elite group of receivers. Numbers-wise there are few receivers in the league that have been as good as Holt since 2000, Holt’s second season in the league.
In that time, Holt has posted the most receiving yards in the league with 7,726. For a receiver with a minimum of 50 games played, Holt is the league’s all-time leader in yards per game with 86.5 per outing.
Still, when the many so-called football experts and pundits release their thoughts on who sits at the top of the league’s receiver hierarchy, Holt often falls in line behind the other, more flashy receivers in the league.
Tight end Roland Williams has known Holt since he entered the league in 1999 and still can’t figure out how Holt isn’t known as one of the top two or three receivers in the league.
“That has always baffled me,” Williams said. “Even when I played in Oakland and checked in to see how my guys were doing it always amazed me that he continues to put up Pro Bowl, top numbers but he just continues to be off the superstar radar screen. I don’t think it’s right. I think if you ask the receivers themselves around the league who they think is one of the best, I would definitely say they’d put Torry at the top of the list. I think it’s because they aren’t overspoken, they might not be so flashy on the field, but in the long run they will get their just due.”
Maybe Holt isn’t the fastest receiver in the league, though his speed is often underestimated, and maybe he isn’t the best athlete in the league, but what sets him apart is what his teammates would call his consistent ability to be, well, consistent.
In 2004, Holt became the first receiver in NFL history to have five consecutive seasons with 1,300 or more receiving yards. That kind of production would be a career dream for many players in the league, but for Holt it is simply a yearly goal.
Aside from his team goals of winning as much as possible, Holt sets individual goals that would seemingly be out of reach for many receivers in the league. Holt generally shoots for about 90-plus catches, 1,300 yards and 10 or more touchdowns. Holt is well on his way once again to meeting those standards, with 75 catches for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns with four games to go. But his goals aren’t limited to statistics.
“Trying to stay healthy, continue to get better in the running game, trying to get the details of the run game and pass game when we’re in the two minute drive and when to stay in or get out of bounds,” Holt said. “Those little things I am also trying to get better at and consistent at. That would allow me to become the ultimate pro and be the receiver that can do it all in every area.”
That’s something Holt set out to do right away when he entered the league. Holt had no desire to be pigeonholed as just a deep threat that can’t move the chains or as a possession receiver that can’t get down the field. He wanted to be a complete receiver.
There are few players better to judge a receiver than the quarterback. Rams’ signal-caller Marc Bulger said Holt doesn’t have to worry much about becoming a complete player, for he already is one.
“He was good last year and the year before, but we ran pretty much the whole route tree with him,” Bulger said. “He ran hitches, he ran slants, he ran go routes, he did pump moves, he did out routes. He did everything. There is not one route that he doesn’t do well. It’s tough for a defense to say ‘hey, we’re going to play Cover Two’ because he has routes that he runs so well against that, he can beat them too. That’s why he’s a complete receiver and he can do it all.”
Holt’s ability to run every route in the book is a direct result of the hard work and attention to detail that he puts in on a daily basis. There are few players that enjoy simply being on the field as much as Holt. Rare is the occasion that you will find Holt without that mega-watt smile on his face and the practice field is no exception.
It is that enjoyment of the game and dedication that separate Holt from the other receivers that are often mentioned in the same breath as him.
“You can look at Torry in the mini-camp, you can look at him in the OTA, you can look at him in training camp, you can look at him in the preseason and he just does things the exact same way,” Williams said. “That standard is what makes you great in this league. There are a lot of good players in this league, but what makes a guy great is his ability to be consistent at that high level. Some guys might be six out of 10, seven out of 10, it’s these guys that can be nine out of 10, 10 out of 10 that are great. I think he is just a phenomenal receiver.”
An Early Exit?
Consistency is the word that Holt most often uses when he tries to describe his goals in the NFL. It has been at the tip of his tongue from the day he stepped into the NFL. In everything he does, he tries to be consistent.
But one thing that some people might not be thrilled to hear is Holt’s consistent contention that he might not stick around long enough to break the receiving records that he is rapidly approaching.
“There’s no secret about that,” Holt said. “I’m going to take it year by year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I have an early exit out of this game. That’s just the way I feel. I’m not going to try to play umpteen numbers of years to try to prove something.”
Holt has long insisted that playing for records isn’t something that he wants to do. In fact, he says he wouldn’t mind if he left the game with a year or two of top-end production still in the tank.
“I think that’s probably the thing that means the most to me is leaving the game knowing I still had a year or two left that I could play at a high level,” Holt said. “I think that I would get a kick out of that. In that right I am selfish because that means something to me to be able to walk away from this game knowing that I was still at the top of my game. I can’t explain it, but it’s something that would sit well with me.”
When Holt entered the league he envisioned playing 10 seasons of consistent football for the Rams. He is now in year seven, but don’t fret, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be retiring in three years. But if the time comes sooner than later, Holt has prepared himself well for life after football.
The always happy, always affable and always chatty Holt would seem perfect for a career in broadcasting when his time in the league is done. He even helped ESPN out with its NFL Draft coverage in April and handled the situation well.
“When I leave the game, if I keep doing what I am doing now I can transition over to something else that I love to do and I can look back and say my years in the NFL were great but this is what I am doing now and I am going to enjoy it and do it the best I can,” Holt said.
For now, though, Holt is doing his job as a receiver as best he can. Holt has earned the respect of all of his teammates and coaches as well as opposing players and coaches for his approach to the game.
And for any player that might need a reminder of what Holt can do, it’s as easy as flipping on the game film of Holt losing Arizona cornerback David Macklin on a curl route or the double move he put on Tennessee’s Andre Woolfolk for a touchdown.
Although Holt generally doesn’t like to talk about his individual accomplishments, he will flash a grin and admit that he amazes himself sometimes when watching tape.
“You get in that zone and you’re like ‘Wow was that really me out there playing like that, catching it like that or blocking like that?’ Holt said. “At times I guess I look at myself in amazement.”
Rest assured he’s not the only one that gets that feeling from watching him play.
Re: Big Game Headed for Another Big SeasonOriginally Posted by RamWraith
-12-09-2005 #3sbramfan Guest
Re: Big Game Headed for Another Big Season
they'll have to win more than 5 games next year, and the year after to intice him to stick around.
-12-10-2005 #4bruce_wannabe Guest
Re: Big Game Headed for Another Big Season
hu, if the rams turn for the worse then he's going to pull a henry hellard and get out of there play a season or 2 and then get out of the league