By JOE LYONS jlyons@post-dispatch.com

Andrew Helmick’s tryout with the Rams lasted all of seven plays.

“I took more time warming up than I did actually catching passes,’’ the 22-year-old wide receiver from Lindenwood University said this week. “I caught seven passes — five from the wide position and two from the slot — and then talked a little with (coach Jeff Fisher). But he didn’t say a whole lot.

“At that point, I really didn’t know what to think. I tried to stay positive, but I also wondered, ‘Was I that bad that after just seven passes, he’d seen enough?’’’

But after lunch, Helmick was called upstairs and signed as a college free agent.

“It’s just amazing how things work out,’’ said Helmick, a 6-foot, 199-pounder from Winnetonka High in Kansas City. “I had a number of teams talk to me before and after the draft, but the Rams weren’t one of them. I went to rookie tryouts in Atlanta and in Cleveland and felt like I did pretty well. Both teams said they were interested, but Atlanta had a full roster and had to make some cuts to find room and Cleveland said that I really didn’t fit their style.

“I was back at the dorms at Lindenwood, trying to decide whether I was going to try and find a team in Canada or maybe give indoor football a shot. But then I get a call from the Rams, go for the tryout and end up with a team that’s just across the river.’’

Helmick enjoyed a record-setting career in St. Charles.

He finished as the Lions’ career leader in receptions (153), receiving yards (2,828) and touchdowns (32) while posting 12 100-yard receiving games and four games with 200-plus receiving yards.

Last season, he caught 66 passes for 1,363 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

“I’m a competitor, a guy who hates to lose — at anything,’’ said Helmick. “I may not be the biggest or fastest guy but if I have a shot at making a catch or making a play, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the job done.’’

Helmick said the tryouts with the Falcons and Browns opened his eyes and boosted his confidence.

“As a D-II guy, I think there’s always going to be a little doubt at first,’’ he said. “But once I got on the field, I put that aside and just focused on making plays. I realized that I was as good, maybe better, than the (free-agent) guys from bigger schools and even the guys those teams had drafted. I proved to myself that I could play at this level and now I have to make sure that I can prove to the Rams’ coaches.’’

Helmick, whose 40 time is in the 4.3-4.4 range, hopes to make an early impact on special teams and move forward from there.

At this point, he said the biggest adjustment is learning the playbook.

“When we’re doing one-on-ones, I’m fine because I know what I need to do to make the play,’’ he said. “But at this level, it’s as much about the mental preparation as the physical. When the play’s called in the huddle, you have to be able to lock in right away. You have to know the alignment, your spot on the field, your pattern and how all of that comes together to make the play work.

“At this point, with so much being thrown at us, it can be a little overwhelming. Instead of grasping it right away and reacting, you catch yourself thinking and sometimes over-thinking it. It has to become second nature.’’

That is why Helmick is spending so much time studying the playbook with other rookies. And why he is running post-practice pass patterns every day.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I have to everything I can to try and make the most of it,’’ he said.


Intriguing kid. Seems to have his head screwed on right as well. Hope he makes the PS at least.