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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    By MICHAEL LEWIS STAFF WRITER
    DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL
    December 22nd 2010


    Mardy Gilyard sounded like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" this week.

    Here he is, just a few games from the finish of what looks to be a disappointing rookie season in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, and yet, just listen to the former Flagler Palm Coast star talk and tell me he's not channeling George Bailey.

    "Man, this life is a dream, a total dream," Gilyard said. "Every day I get to come to work and see (Rams rookie QB) Sam (Bradford), a guy who's going to be one of the great quarterbacks in the league. I get to see Roger Saffold, a great rookie offensive lineman. I get to talk (star running back) Steven Jackson's ear off all the time.

    "I've got the perfect teammates, the perfect coaches, the perfect situation. I couldn't ask for anything more."

    Yeah, the guy sounds real disappointed.

    And yet the 24-year-old rookie hasn't caught a pass or returned a kick since Week 6, and last week he was put on the inactive list for the third time this season.

    For the year, he has caught caught just six passes for 63 yards and is averaging 22.3 yards per kickoff return, 31st in the league for players with 10 or more returns.

    In short, the electrifying player so many fell in love with the past five years at the University of Cincinnati hasn't made his mark in the NFL.

    Always an optimist, Gilyard said he is using this year as a learning experience, and he regrets he wasn't more prepared when his "moment" came when the Rams gave him his first NFL start Oct. 17 versus San Diego.

    "I just kept questioning myself that day, like, 'Am I running the right route' or 'What's the call here?' " said Gilyard, who left the Chargers game in the second half with a hamstring injury. "I hadn't been studying my playbook as hard as I should have, and I was way too slow doing some basic things."

    "After that game. I was determined to make sure that, from now on, my quarterback knew that I knew exactly what I was doing."

    Rams wide receivers coach Nolan Cromwell said he has been pleased by Gilyard's progress, even though all three of Gilyard's inactive games have come since the start against the Chargers.

    "One thing that was tough is we made him learn all the different (receiver) positions at the start, and that's hard for a rookie," Cromwell said. "He's progressing really well now; his practices are more crisp, and he's become more instinctive.

    "It's just been hard for him to get playing time because the guys ahead of him are playing well and we've had injuries at other positions (that required other players to be active for depth)."

    Gilyard said he hasn't been surprised at the Rams' vast improvement over last year's 1-15 record. Despite losing its last two games, St. Louis is tied atop the NFC West with Seattle at 6-8.

    The Ram control their own destiny, as they will win the NFC West and claim the division's playoff berth with victories the next two weeks against San Francisco and Seattle.

    "It'd be a blessing to get there; you spend all that time as a kid watching the playoffs and dreaming you'll get there," Gilyard said. "But I ain't no fortune-teller; I have no idea if we're going to make it."

    As for not playing regularly for the first time in his life, even that hasn't been so bad.

    "I get to watch the game and see some things I should be doing, and give advice to the guys in the game about how the defender is playing them," Gilyard said. "Maybe I notice something and maybe it helps a guy get open next time."

    "I mean, of course I want to play. But (coach Steve Spagnuolo), man, he's demanding. That little man demands! And I've jut got to keep working hard to get better."

    Life off the field has been equally nice, Gilyard said.

    He gets a kick out of seeing his "No. 81" jersey on fans around St. Louis, and he said he has signed endorsement deals with Pepsi, Sprint and Verizon ("It's pretty cool seeing your face on a Pepsi can in a store," he said with a laugh.)

    He was able to take some of his signing money and buy his mom a new Chevrolet Equinox, and said, "I've spent so much money on Christmas presents, you wouldn't believe it."

    But he was quick to add that his business manager handles all his money and gives him a regular stipend.

    For a guy who has worked so hard to get to the NFL, including enduring a bout of homelessness in college and growing up in the rough neighborhood of Bunnell, Gilyard is definitely taking time to enjoy his good fortune.

    "Knowing that I can take care of my family, and help them out and help out people in my old community, is just a great feeling," Gilyard said. "And I know that when my chance to play comes again, I'll be much more ready."


  2. #2
    MACD is offline Registered User
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    This year he'll be on the same footing as everyone else learning the new playbook. NO excuses. Of course he admitted he didn't study hard enough last year. Not good.

    I'm particularly surprised he didn't contribute to special teams...that I can remember. What was the injury he had? A thumb?

  3. #3
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    I'll be a lot happier when he starts making other peoples dreams come true. RAMS FANS DREAMS, what that money is suposed to be paying for.
    The Breakfast Club. You want cheese with that?

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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    Those 81 jerseys that he is seeing are probabally just old Holt jerseys..... I havent seen a gilyard jersey anywhere. I was suprised they made a rookie card for him but I managed to get two of them so hopefully he turns out better than last year.

  5. #5
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    I hope he becomes a bigger part of the team next year because I don't remember him doing much this year.

  6. #6
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMpage28 View Post
    I hope he becomes a bigger part of the team next year because I don't remember him doing much this year.
    He contributed with mediocre production in the first third of the season at best, and seeing that he's has some experience in the spread and that McD will be running that kind of system in our offense, he can potentially breakout to a lesser degree of Miles Austin-like numbers. He may not have speed but he has elusiveness, which is just what we need, now he just needs to have the IQ to utilize those crisp routes.

  7. #7
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    2011 has to be a turning point for little MG. The turning point into becoming a true WR with the Rams.

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    Calling your coach "that little man' probably isn't the right way to go. Staying positive is good but playing the class clown when you're making serious money & contributing nothing to earn it......and yet still have the gall to chat about your new found wealth to reporters doesn't speak well of your maturity.

    Shut up and get to work,imo. The little man won't wait for you to stop cracking wise & to start producing more than cheap laughs & medical bills. Just ask Burton or Foster.
    Last edited by Azul e Oro; -03-21-2011 at 04:52 AM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..

    I think he talks a little too much for his own good, basically one of those annoying people who thinks he knows everything and knows jack. I hope last year was a big wake up call and lets hope his ego can be kept in check. Respect needs to be earned Mardy- perfect name-grow up man.
    I hope you prove me wrong and your number 81 is props to you. Because theirs no way on earth the fans have bought your jersey in your name. Geeez

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