Consistently excellent, reserved Holt is the anti-T.O.
Aug. 9, 2006
By Pete Prisco
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
ST. LOUIS -- You go in search of the answer, asking a variety of people, from the guy who throws him the ball to the new coach to the receiver himself, all the same question with the hope of finding the secret to the success of one of the NFL's great, yet under-recognized, receivers.
Marc Bulger on his rapport with Holt: 'It's definitely an advantage.'
What makes St. Louis Rams receiver Torry Holt so good?
"He gets his catches because he's the best route runner in the league," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said.
"I've never seen a guy who has more naturally gifted hands," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "He makes every catch look so easy."
Both good reasons, but Holt provides the No. 1 reason.
"I pride myself on my consistency," Holt said. "It's the same every year. Some guys it's hot, warm, and then cold. Or it's hot, lukewarm, cold and then hot again. For me, I like it to be about consistency. The other way makes no sense to me."
The way he works makes that possible. During a training camp practice at Rams Park on Monday, he ran all of his routes hard, even the early drills that some veteran receivers might take as an easy time. When he ran a go route during an 11-on-11 drill, he was bumped off his route by the defender.
"That's pass interference," he screamed at a coach standing nearby. "That's pass interference."
What did it really matter? Yet here was one of the game's best receivers, on a hot, sticky day in August in his eighth season, acting like a meaningless play in a practice was as important as a third-down pass play in a playoff game.
That's Holt. He cares.
That's another reason why he has put up some amazing -- consistent -- numbers in his first seven seasons. He's the only man in NFL history to have six consecutive 1,300-yard receiving seasons.
Holt is 38th on the all-time receptions list with 619, but he was the second-fastest in history to 600 receptions. He has averaged 88 catches per season in his career. If he kept up that average, or close to it, and played as long as Jerry Rice's 21 years, he would shatter the all-time receptions record of 1,549 catches.
Holt is 29th on the all-time receiving yardage list with 9,487 yards, an average of 1,355 yards per season. That's a pace that would allow him to break Rice's all-time record of 22,895 yards in his 17th season, while it took Rice 21 to get there.
"I don't know if I'll be there chasing 15, 16 or 17 years," Holt said. "Next year, that feeling may change. I'll play this game as long as I can play it, but I'm not saying I'll be playing for umpteen years."
Maybe his goal should be to play as long as he can to become the Rams receptions leader and yardage leader. He's third on both of those lists.
Thus, the rub with Holt, and a big reason why he doesn't get the due he deserves. He plays opposite Isaac Bruce, one of the game's best for a long, long time. Bruce is 10th on the all-time list for receiving yards with 12,278 and is 14th in catches with 813. He's also one behind Henry Ellard on the Rams' all-time receptions list.
Bruce is in his 13th year, and though he is ahead in numbers, there is no doubt that Holt is the now the Rams' No. 1 receiver.
Bruce caught 36 passes on an injury-plagued season in 2005, while Holt had the second 100-catch season of his career with 102. In the past three seasons, he's had 313 catches for a 100-catch average. The 313 catches are the most by any receiver in football during that span.
That includes Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and all the others who usually get ranked ahead of Holt on most rankings of receivers.
"I'm not really concerned with that," Holt said. "I just go out and play hard and try to help my team win ballgames. I want 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns every season. If I reach that, great. If we win, it's even greater. I don't make those lists. I just go out there and play hard, play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
Linehan worked with Moss in Minnesota, so he knows a star receiver when he sees one. While he refrained from comparing the two, he put both on a pedestal above the rest of the league's receivers.
"I think those are two guys who have done something as far as their first seven or eight years that I don't think anybody will touch," Linehan said.
What has impressed Linehan about Holt as much as anything is the way he goes about his business. He is open to coaching, which wasn't always the case with Moss, although Linehan had a solid relationship with his receiver when he was offensive coordinator in Minnesota.
"He does things exactly how they're coached, and that's what makes him great," Linehan said. "He accepts coaching unconditionally. Every once in a while he might ask if we can do something another way. He never says I don't like that route. He'll run every route."
There's that consistency.
"I've been throwing to him for five years now," Bulger said. "It's definitely an advantage."
Maybe this will be the year that Holt finally moves to the top of the receiver lists -- where he belongs. The problem with that is that he doesn't have any stand-out, end-zone celebrations, stays away from trouble off the field, doesn't argue with his coaches and isn't all about Torry. He doesn't go by T.H., doesn't rip his quarterbacks in public, and never gets caught on camera ripping into the play-caller.
He's the one receiver among the elite who doesn't find his way into the spotlight for reasons other than playing football.
"He's not a self-promoter," Linehan said. "He's very secure. He doesn’t need the spotlight. He doesn't need all the attention. But there is little doubt that he plays at the highest level in this league."
And yet here he is talking this summer about his top goal for camp: Making the team.
"Every year you're trying to prove yourself and it's no different," Holt said. "We have a new coaching staff and these guys haven't seen us on a personal basis day in and day out. That's my camp goal. To make the team. Then I go from there with my other goals."
Here's a good bet: He'll be on the final 53-man roster. Here's another good bet: Come January, he'll be among the league leaders in catches and yards.
Maybe then this consistently great receiver will finally get the due he deserves.
Re: Consistently excellent, reserved Holt is the anti-T.O.
Its funny how no one seems to notice this guy. We were discussing him at work the other day and everyone was so shocked when I said he has 6 years in a row with 1300 yard. I think he will stand in the top 5 in every catagory before he retires. I also feel he will have some of Rice's records. Go get em Holt.
Re: Consistently excellent, reserved Holt is the anti-T.O.
After 7 seasons:
Originally Posted by LaRamsFanLongTime
Holt --- 619 rec., 9487 yards, 54 TDs
Rice --- 526 rec., 9072 yards, 93 TDs
Holt --- Six 1300-yard seasons
Rice --- Three 1300-yard seasons
I don't see any way he can break the TD mark, but if he stays healthy, he could make a run at both receptions and yards.