No-name receivers good enough for Rams

Columnist Jeff Gordon
(E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
08/21/2009

Here at STLtoday.com, concerned readers have been clamoring for additional receiver help for the Rams.

The exodus of Torry Holt, Drew Bennett, Dane Looker and Dante Hall from last season’s juggernaut left them anxious.

Where were the proven pass catchers in the current group? Why not trade for, say, Buffalo wide receiver Roscoe Parrish?

Fans realized that the Bills management team was considering offloading Parrish before the season, since Terrell Owens’ arrival made him superfluous.

All this chit-chat puzzles Rams general manager Billy Devaney. He believes his team has ample receiving at the moment.

“I think they have been more than solid,” Devaney said after watching his team’s Thursday walk-through.

Tonight’s preseason tilt at The Ed is another opportunity to see if Rams management is being overly optimistic about this no-name group. Fans will be able to make their own judgments.

Speedster Donnie Avery is recovering from a foot fracture and rookie Brooks Foster is hobbled by an ankle injury, so the others will get a thorough test.

From his days in Atlanta, Devaney believes in Laurent Robinson. Back in 2007 he caught 37 passes for 437 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons.

Devaney acquired Robinson to be a starting wide receiver this season. He has seen nothing so far this summer to lower those expectations.

Against the New York Jets in the preseason opener, Robinson turned heads by catching a 50-yard pass from Marc Bulger.

“Laurent Robinson has had a heck of a training camp,” Devaney said. “He hasn’t had a down day since he’s been here."

Second-year receiver Keenan Burton had trouble staying healthy in college and again during his rookie year with the Rams. That left fans skeptical about his potential.

“Keenan has been our durable guy,” Devaney said. “Once he got to training camp, he hasn’t missed a snap.”

Avery’s quick recovery from his injury is another positive note. Donnie has lobbied to return to practice.

“We have to tie him down to keep him from going out there,” Devaney said. “He IS ahead of schedule. But we don’t want to get greedy and get him out there too early.”

Devaney acquired Ronald Curry from Detroit to add another veteran receiver with more size. Prior to that, he added former Giant Tim Carter as a depth guy.

Sean Walker, a rookie from Vanderbilt, helped his case by catching a late 13-yard TD pass against the Jets in the preseason opener.

Speedy Derek Stanley is trying to earn a job by also becoming the team’s return specialist. He remains a work in progress.

“Right now, Stanley is the guy,” Devaney said. “Derek has to do a better job than he did in New York (during the preseason opener). His decision-making has to be better.”

Hypothetically, the Rams appear to have enough receiving talent for this offense. The Rams will be a run-first attack, after all, and Bulger figures to rely heavily on his tight ends in this West Coast-style passing scheme.

You won’t see all the three- and four-receiver sets you saw during Mike Martz’s heyday. The demands on the receiving won’t be nearly so extreme.

Can the current group meet the lowered bar? About 10:30 p.m. tonight, we’ll have a much better idea.