Quick, Pead seek second-year success
By JOE LYONS
Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead were chosen by the Rams in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Quick, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver with speed and big-play potential out of Appalachian State, was the first pick on the draft’s second day (No. 33 overall). Not long after that, with pick No. 50, the Rams nabbed Pead, a 5-10, 197-pound change-of-pace back from the University of Cincinnati who ranks third in Bearcats history in rushing yards (3,288) and rushing touchdowns (27).
Both entered his rookie season with promise and potential but struggled to make their mark as first-year players in the NFL.
Quick showed brief flashes of his skill last season, but finished with just 11 catches for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Pead rushed just 10 times, for 54 yards, caught three passes for 16 and returned 10 kicks for 212.
But that was then.
“New year, new season. That’s the way I look at it,’’ Pead said Friday after the Rams wrapped up the first week of offseason practices. “The second year, it’s completely different because you have a better idea of what to expect and you have a better idea of what’s expected of you.
“Last year obviously didn’t go the way I wanted, but I survived it and I’m ready to move forward.’’
Quick does not consider 2012 a lost season.
“Last year, for me, was a learning year, and that’s something I’m looking to build on,’’ he said. “It’s a big step, coming to the NFL because everything at this level, physically and mentally, is so much faster. You have to adjust, but you can’t force it.
“But now, after that first year, I really feel like I have a better feel for the offense and my role here. I’m ready to take my game to the next level.’’
The Rams are counting on Quick and Pead to make strides as the offense adjusts to the departure of running back Steven Jackson, via free agency, to the Atlanta Falcons.
“We’ve always said that players make their biggest improvements from year one to year two,’’ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said early in the offseason. “Brian’s second year in the system, we expect him to (develop). The guy’s gonna make a lot of plays for us. And the same is (true) for (receiver) Chris (Givens) and Isaiah. Those three are gonna have to step up and play some major roles in our offense.’’
Quick and Pead each got off to a slow starts last year, for different reasons.
Coming from a small school, Quick struggled with the finer points of the Rams’ playbook.
“This offense is a lot more complicated than anything I’ve run before,’’ Quick said. “You’re constantly working on the little things, trying to make sure that everything is perfect. By the second half of last season, though, I felt a lot more comfortable and now, going into the second year, I really feel like I’m ready to show people what I can do.’’
Quick continued: “I don’t tend to get frustrated and I definitely don’t worry about what other people say. The Rams drafted me where they did for a reason. I know that the coaches believe in me and know what I can do. It’s my time to step up and start making plays.’’
Pead’s slow start can be traced to a late start.
He attended rookie minicamp but was unable to attend the early offseason practices because Cincinnati is on the quarter system and, under league rules, a player is unable to join his NFL team until after the school year is completed.
“The crazy thing was, I wasn’t even in school at the time,’’ Pead said. “So I was just sitting around.
“I had a playbook, but I couldn’t explain it to myself. I missed all but a week of (offseason practices) last year, so this year, I just feel like I’m that much farther along.’’
Both players enjoyed some success in 2012, giving them something to build on for this season.
Quick caught two passes for 31 yards in a loss to Green Bay in Week 7, hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Clemens in a Week 10 tie the game against San Francisco and had two receptions for 12 yards and a score in a Week 15 loss to Minnesota.
In the finale at Seattle, Pead matched his season’s total for carries, rushing five times for 21 yards.
“You’re only as good as your last game, so hopefully that gave the coaches a little bit to remember,’’ he said. “Since then, I’ve really tried to dedicate myself to prepare for this season. My workouts have always been pretty intense, but I’ve really focused to try and bring a violent edge to my game.’’
With Jackson gone, the Rams’ backfield is wide open as Pead joins fellow second-year backs Daryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway and rookie Zac Stacy as top early contenders for playing time.
“We’re all competitors and we’re all looking to be No. 1,’’ Pead said. “But it’s not like we’re enemies. We’re truly a unit, trying to do everything we can to make sure that we’re all getting better, as individuals and as a group.’’
Both second-year players are excited about the Rams’ offensive potential in 2013.
“Oh man, I really think we’re in for a fun year,’’ Quick said. “The returning guys have an added year of experience and the guys we’ve brought in have a lot to offer, too. Sam (Bradford ) is definitely the leader, but it’s not just on him. I feel like it’s up to all of us, every guy on the team, to step up and support him and to hopefully move this football team first toward the playoffs and eventually to a championship.’’
Re: Quick, Pead seek second-year success
Love the attitude of both Quick and Pead, now it's go time.