Rams' Gilyard is catching up

BY BILL COATS
Thursday, August 19, 2010


Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Share3 It's not easy to compliment Rams rookie wide receiver Mardy Gilyard.

Gilyard, a fourth-round draft pick from the University of Cincinnati, is cobbling together his best week of practice since training camp opened at Rams Park late last month.

But Gilyard wanted to hear nothing of the sort.

"To the outside eye, it might've looked like it was real good," he said. "In my opinion, I had two OK practices. Because I've got to be consistent. I can't be up and down. Of course (the coaches) expect me to make mistakes. But on my end, I don't want to make any."

Gilyard got off to a rough start in camp, with some dropped passes. Then he was forced to the sideline for several days with a wrist injury that kept him out of Saturday's preseason opener against Minnesota.

He's back on the field now, a removable cast protecting his sore left wrist, and seemingly beginning to find a rhythm.

"It's good to see," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "And it's not easy for a wide receiver to play with a cast on. But he's been catching the football, doing punts, kickoff returns."

Gilyard knows he has some ground to make up.

"I want to be able to be one of those rookies that the vets can trust out there: 'We trust that guy to get the job done,'" he said. "I'm trying soak everything in like a sponge."

Asked when he might be cleared to remove the cast, Gilyard laughed and said, "I don't know. I've been catching pretty good with it, so I don't care."

He's hoping he's healthy enough to play Saturday, when the Rams visit Cleveland.

"I can't wait just to get out there and play," he said. "I want to be able to showcase my skill level and be able to show the coaches what I've been able to retain ... these past couple of months that I've been here in St. Louis. Just let them know that money spent is not money wasted."

Jackson on the fence

Another question mark for Saturday's game is running back Steven Jackson. He's coming off back surgery in April and skipped the Vikings game.

"We haven't sat down and talked about if I'm going to play against Cleveland," Jackson said. "I'm preparing as if I'm going to go. Mentally and physically I'm ready."

Still, Jackson said it wouldn't be a big deal to him if he sits out again.

"I lean either way," he said. "I've been in the preseason without playing games, and I've participated in preseason games. I will say I'd need it if I wasn't getting banged around. But we've had a pretty physical camp.

"The more time I can buy getting ready for (the regular-season opener vs.) Arizona without having to play a full-out game, I think it puts us in a more safe (position). But at the same time, I'm not worried about the back. I feel great."

Players get a break

To the players' relief, Spagnuolo has declared an end to two-a-day practices for this training camp. Two more such days had been scheduled, for today and Tuesday. Both have been changed to single-practice days, with the sessions beginning at 2:15 p.m.

"It's about that time in training camp to do that," Spagnuolo said. "I'm pleased at how hard they've been working. I told them if they trusted me when I pushed them and kept pushing and pushing that ... I would pull off and be concerned about the health of the team, balance the work and the health.

"So I'm trying to get a team healthy and have them prepared to play" when the Cardinals come to town Sept. 12.

Ram-blings

The Rams got through Wednesday's practice without adding anyone to the injury list. Those players sidelined with previous injuries were kicker Josh Brown (hip), safety James Butler (knee), cornerback Kevin Dockery (hip), guard John Greco (chest), cornerback Justin King (calf), wide receiver Brandon McRae (ankle), cornerback Jerome Murphy (ankle), safety Kevin Payne (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (leg). ... Spagnuolo canceled the post-practice meetings, giving the players a rare night off.