Rams Are Wide Open At Wideout ..
BY BILL COATS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, who caught 1,811 passes for 26,769 yards and 162 touchdowns with the Rams, have taken their gaudy stats elsewhere. Bruce is preparing for his second season in San Francisco, and Holt is about to report for his first training camp in Jacksonville.
Of the 12 wide receivers on the current Rams' roster, six never have caught a pass in the NFL. Until eight-year veteran Ronald Curry was acquired in a trade last week, free-agent pickup Tim Carter sported the most extensive résumé: 80 catches for 1,084 yards and four TDs over six seasons.
But don't tell receivers coach Charlie Baggett that he has a bunch of nobodies in his stable. "These young kids we've got, they've got talent, and I think they're going to step up," Baggett said Tuesday at Rams Park. "I really feel good about them."
Training camp opens Thursday, and at least half the wideouts on hand now will be gone by the time the regular season kicks off Sept. 13 in Seattle. The competition, general manager Billy Devaney stressed, "is wide open. And may the best (five or six) win."
Donnie Avery, coming off a 53-catch, 674-yard rookie season, is No. 1 on the depth chart. After that, it's anybody's guess as to who will wind up sticking on the 53-man roster.
"It's a really enthusiastic and smart group, and they understand that they have an opportunity here," Baggett said. "These guys realize what was before them and they realize what's ahead of them. And I really feel good about the fact that they're going to take the challenge. ...
"It's been proven over the years in the National Football League that you can win without superstar receivers."
Second-year pro Keenan Burton and offseason acquisition Laurent Robinson probably are the front-runners for the other first-team spot. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Curry — just two years removed from a 55-catch, 717-yard season in Oakland — will get a long look, too, coach Steve Spagnuolo promised.
"He brings some veteran leadership ... a character guy," Spagnuolo said. "He's got some size. I think he'll help our football team."
Devotees of rock-'em, sock-'em football will be pleased with defensive coordinator Ken Flajole's goal for his unit.
"The thing that I'd hopefully like to make our calling card is that we'll be a tough-nosed, aggressive, physical defense," he said. "And once we get the pads on, that'll give us a chance to see if we can become that. ...
"If we can be stout at the point of attack in the run game, if we can (have) a little bit of the thumping attitude when we come and tackle people, those would be the things that'll be fast found out when we put the pads on."
THOMAS GETS OFFER
The Rams have made a contract offer to defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, a former Sumner High standout. Thomas, 34, has been in the NFL for 13 seasons. According to his agent, Thomas is considering the Rams and three other teams.
About two dozen rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans are to report today. The rest of the squad is due in Thursday. ... Selected players will sign autographs only after the open morning practices and the Aug. 7 scrimmage at Lindenwood University. No autographs will be available after afternoon practices.