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Thread: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

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    Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Austin Pettis doesn't peek at the depth chart, or play the numbers game in his head. Neither does Greg Salas.

    But the rookie wide receivers, drafted in the third and fourth round respectively by the Rams, know what time it is. Crunch time. Just four weeks into their NFL training camp experience, and minus the usual benefits of spring minicamps and OTAs, Pettis and Salas are bracing for judgment day.

    Following tonight's preseason game in Kansas City against the Chiefs, the Rams will begin paring the roster from its current 89 players to the regular-season limit of 53. That's 36 players who will be on the street over the next eight days. At wide receiver, the Rams probably will keep only six or seven of the 12 wideouts currently in camp.

    And there are eight strong candidates — nine if you include Dominique Curry, who made the opening day roster last season but is coming off knee surgery and has been slowed by a broken hand this camp. That's a lot of competition.

    "Personally, I just don't worry about that too much," said Pettis, from Boise State. "Either I'm good enough to play or I'm not. I don't need to see how the next guy's doing. Everyone out here is trying to get better, and it's a better atmosphere if everyone is competing and encouraging each other. I think that's what it's been the whole entire time out here."

    Salas is taking a similar approach.

    "You can't think about that right now," said Salas, from Hawaii. "All you can think about is doing the best you can do when your number's called."

    Normally, a third- and fourth-round pick is bulletproof during the cutdowns as rookies in this age of the salary cap. Unless the player is injured or an outright disaster, teams don't want to swallow the signing bonus by cutting the player. With the new rookie pay system in effect, the signing bonuses are lower this year across the board. But lower enough to make it easier to cut a mid-round draft pick? Probably not.

    According to figures filed with the NFL Players Association, Pettis' signing bonus was $614,000 as the 78th player chosen overall in the draft. The 78th overall pick in 2010, wide receiver Brandon LaFell, received a signing bonus of $818,000.

    Salas, as the 112th overall pick this year, received a signing bonus of $451,000. The 112th selection in 2010, running back Joe McKnight, got $501,000.

    Neither Pettis nor Salas has been a disaster this preseason. Far from it. But neither has shown much on game day so far, either, which makes tonight's Governor's Cup game all the more important. Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Arrowhead Stadium.

    Pettis has one catch for six yards in two preseason games. According to press box stats, he has been targeted three times. He got his hands on a couple of throws in the preseason opener against Indianapolis, but they were well-defended plays and would've been tough catches. He made his only preseason grab midway through the fourth quarter against Tennessee, and also was used as a punt returner, resulting in one return for zero yards and one fair catch.

    Pettis said the NFL experience has been, "A little more than expected. I'd like myself to be a little farther on down the road than I am right now. But it's definitely a learning experience and I'm having a good time."

    Before he arrived for camp, Pettis said Rams wide receivers coach Nolan Cromwell wanted him to familiarize himself with all three wide receiver positions: the split end, flanker, and slot.

    "So that's kind of what I've been trying to do," Pettis said. "It's kind of slowed my process down a little bit, trying to take in so much, but in the long run it's definitely going to help out."

    As he goes through the learning process, Pettis says there are times that he's thinking about what to do on the field instead of simply reacting.

    "It's not only me — a lot of guys," he said. "It's a whole knew offense for them as well. It's a very intricate offense and it involves a lot of thinking, but you also have to play fast."

    Pettis has been trying to find that happy medium between knowing what he's doing — the thinking part — and playing fast. "The practice out here has been helping a lot," he said. "You've got to be able to balance those."

    Salas, meanwhile, was impressive early in camp, working with the starting unit because both Danny Amendola and Mike Sims-Walker, as veterans who had signed new contracts, couldn't practice by league rule until Aug. 4. Quarterback Sam Bradford seemed to develop a quick chemistry with Salas.

    But Salas then suffered a hamstring injury, missing more than a week of camp including the exhibition opener against the Colts. He had tweaked the same hamstring during Rams players-only workouts held in June in the Phoenix area.

    "Sitting out for a week was really frustrating, mentally and physically," Salas said. "So it's good to be back out here and it was good to get some game reps the other night."

    Salas caught three passes for 25 yards against Tennessee, including back-to-back grabs that jump-started the Rams' game-winning field goal drive. Lucky for him that third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis came right back to him after Salas dropped an easy pass on the first play of that series.

    "I broke out of my route and I just felt how wide open I was," said Salas, who like Pettis was known for his sure-handed ways in college. "It felt like forever I was sitting there waiting. It was just so wide open. ... I knew I had room to run, and it was just a lapse of concentration."

    Salas made amends with catches on the next two plays and could see some early playing time tonight against the Chiefs because he worked with the starters during the practice week in the four-wide receiver package.

    Read more: Rookie receivers hope to catch on


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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Neither Pettis nor Salas has been a disaster this preseason. Far from it.
    I'm not sure if this still holds true for Pettis, who I loved watching at BSU. I'm really disappointed in his overall play so far.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    It isnt like Pettis isnt getting the reps, he simply cannot get open. I cant see the Rams giving up on him though, a lot of WR's struggle in their first year. Pettis seems to be going a similar way to Gilyard, first year learning three positions at WR. He will be expected to produce more next season.? I did have higher hopes for Pettis, being a 3rd round pick, I expected him to have something. Salas is looking like a player who will become a good target for Bradford, if anyone goes down.?

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Pettis hasn't really done much this pre-season, but it's tough for a team to spend a third round pick on a guy and not keep him on the roster. I've seen some practice squad suggestions, but I just don't know if the Rams risk that given their draft investment. He'll probably be kept on the final roster but made inactive on game days until he can contribute more.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Don't understand the perceived risk. No team in the league is going to take Pettis, for whom the preseason film looks horrid, and take him from the Ram's practice squad.

    If you steal a player from a team's practice squad, they must move to the active roster, and they cannot be subsequently sent back to the practice squad.

    Pettis has shown nothing to deserve a spot on any roster.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    Don't understand the perceived risk. No team in the league is going to take Pettis, for whom the preseason film looks horrid, and take him from the Ram's practice squad.

    If you steal a player from a team's practice squad, they must move to the active roster, and they cannot be subsequently sent back to the practice squad.

    Pettis has shown nothing to deserve a spot on any roster.
    Interesting. Would that place Salas just above Pettis in the possibility list?

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    Don't understand the perceived risk. No team in the league is going to take Pettis, for whom the preseason film looks horrid, and take him from the Ram's practice squad.

    If you steal a player from a team's practice squad, they must move to the active roster, and they cannot be subsequently sent back to the practice squad.

    Pettis has shown nothing to deserve a spot on any roster.
    I agree with this. Pettis needs to be cut and put on the PS so he can get ready for next year. Really can't see another team wanting a dude that has shown NOTHING in the games so far. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if most teams didn't have him graded as a 4th rounder anyway. I mean it's not like he was all that hot of a commodity anyway.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    Don't understand the perceived risk. No team in the league is going to take Pettis, for whom the preseason film looks horrid, and take him from the Ram's practice squad.

    If you steal a player from a team's practice squad, they must move to the active roster, and they cannot be subsequently sent back to the practice squad.

    Pettis has shown nothing to deserve a spot on any roster.
    That could be, but IMO, the risk is inherently there when a guy is put on the PS. Maybe it's low risk, maybe it's minimal risk, but it's still a risk because you've created the opportunity.

    It only takes one team, and I suspect the Rams' vision for Pettis when they spent a third round pick on him five months ago was more long-term than opening him up to being snatched from their PS in August or September, regardless of what he has or hasn't shown in the pre-season.

    Maybe I'm wrong, though. If there was ever an offseason where third round picks could be cut from the final roster, this offseason - with limited time for rookies to prepare and practice - would be it.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Talk about putting third and fourth rounders on the PS is nutty. Pettis has caught one of the THREE passes that have come his way. The shortened off-season has some players under the gun that otherwise wouldn't be on our team and others, but taking them off the roster is an over-reaction.
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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by BM_Face View Post
    Talk about putting third and fourth rounders on the PS is nutty. Pettis has caught one of the THREE passes that have come his way. The shortened off-season has some players under the gun that otherwise wouldn't be on our team and others, but taking them off the roster is an over-reaction.
    I don't think putting a third rounder on the PS is any more nutty than keeping a third rounder (who has shown virtually nothing in an open competition) simply because he is a third rounder. And as far as Pettis only having three passes come his way, from what I've seen, that's a result of an inability to get open. In addition, as a return man, all he's done is make fair catches. He has not taken advantage of his chances on the field and has pretty much just been occupying space. Like I said earlier, I loved watching Pettis at BSU and was excited after he was drafted by the Rams, but IMO he hasn't earned a spot on the active roster.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Pettis has only had three balls thrown at him in three games, hard for me to think that Pettis will be cut due to lack of production in games. Pettis was drafted because he has great hands, size and is very smart. The Rams have Pettis learning three positions at WR. During a normal season with OTA's and time to get adjusted to the NFL that would be a tough assignment. For the Rams to throw that much at Pettis they must think he can handle it, the Rams spent a 3rd pick on him IMO they don't cut him.


    That’s why the Rams were thrilled to swoop in and make the Boise State wide receiver their third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft Friday night.

    “Big receiver, smart guy, can play all three positions,” Rams General Manager Billy Devaney said. “He gives us a lot of flexibility. He can play outside, can play slot, great hands. I think it’s a good addition and another weapon in the ever expanding arsenal.”

    “He can score from way out,” Devaney said. “He’s caught a ton of deep balls, but he’s also been an underneath guy. They’ve come from all over the field.”

    When the Rams interviewed Pettis at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, he wowed coaches and scouts with his extensive knowledge of Boise’s offense.

    “He could tell you everything about the wide outs, but I’m not so sure he couldn’t design the offensive line and what their protections were,” Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He was really impressive.”

    Pettis’ football IQ played a role in his success at the college level, and the Rams believe it will allow him to get on the field and contribute early in his career.

    The Rams chose Boise State receiver Austin Pettis with the 78th pick of the NFL draft.

    Pettis is 6-3, 209 pounds and is Boise's all-time leading receiver in receptions and touchdown catches.

    "He's a big receiver, a smart guy, who can play all three positions," Rams GM Billy Devaney said. "He gives us a lot of flexibility. He can play outside, play the slot. He has good hands."

    "They used him a lot of different ways," said coach Steve Spagnuolo, who added that Pettis was very impressive when the team interviewed him. "Outside, inside, in three-wide receiver sets. He's tough in the red zone because he's a big target. Another thing that's attractive is that's a program where they know how to win. He was a two-year captain at a place like that, competing for national championships. We put some emphasis on that. He finds ways to get open and catch the football. He's real productive."

    He had 72 catches for 951 yards as a senior. Devaney said Pettis could also be used on special teams; he blocked three punts in his career. He was the holder on the extra point and field goal units. He also completed five of his six pass attempts during his time at Boise. In his four years, he had 39 touchdown catches, something that Devaney said "caught their eye."

    Pettis is the nephew of former major leaguer Gary Pettis.

    "I'm glad it's over and I know where I'm going," Pettis said. "I know the Rams have a real good quarterback. I'm excited to try to catch passes from him."

    He said that Boise State's complex offense will help him as he transitions to the NFL.

    "Boise ran a pretty complicated offense, with a lot of different personnel," he said, "and going to the NFL, that's something a lot of players struggle with."

    Banks also relayed Spagnuolo's very, very positive impressions of rookie receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas.

    Speaking of Pettis, he had another great day at practice on Friday. He also went toe-to-toe with Al Harris
    Spagnuolo is pleased so far with the progress of Pettis, who made a couple nice catches during Tuesday’s 2-hour, 35-minute practice session. He is particularly impressed with the way Pettis quickly picked up the Rams’ difficult offensive schemes.

    Rookie receiver Austin Pettis caught my attention during red-zone drills Wednesday. The defense had been giving the No. 1 offense problems, batting away passes and even picking off Bradford on a deflection. But on the final play of the period, Bradford threw what might have been his highest-velocity strike of the day.

    Pettis caught it, allowing the offense to finish strong. Earlier, Pettis caught a deep ball from Bradford behind the coverage.
    Last edited by Rambos; -08-28-2011 at 01:48 PM.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    All that praise and hype for Pettis with nothing to show for it. That said, I would not be surprised to see him make the active roster. NFL teams have a tough time letting high draft picks go, regardless of how good or bad they look.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    All that praise and hype for Pettis with nothing to show for it. That said, I would not be surprised to see him make the active roster. NFL teams have a tough time letting high draft picks go, regardless of how good or bad they look.

    Since every game that has been played is just practice and really doesn't count, I guess it's fair to say it's all for nothing at this point.

    I have not been to any practices and or in any meeting so it's hard for me to say if Pettis is living up to what the Rams thought they got in him a guy that can learn fast and play every WR spot.

    If he is learning all three positions he will bring a lot of value during the real season.

    With Danny, MSW, Avery and Gibson on the roster unless one of these guys go down both Salas and Pettis will not be getting many reps even when it counts.

    I think they both make the team...

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Since every game that has been played is just practice and really doesn't count, I guess it's fair to say it's all for nothing at this point.
    It's counts in the sense that there is a competition for a limited number of WR roster spots. For better or worse, performances in preseason games generally determin the winners and losers for those spots. This year is obviously different because of the lockout, so "gut feel" is most likely going to play a bigger part of the equation.

    Like I said, I would not be surprised to see Pettis make it, but IMO, at this point he doesn't deserve a spot.

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    Re: Salas and Pettis: Rookie receivers hope to catch on

    I agree with Rambos completely. Pettis has had less than a month to get acclaimated to the NFL and what he is being asked to do. I would be very unhappy if they didn't give him time to get up to the speed of the NFL. He has all of the tools. We just need to be patient and let him get his reps in and allow him to gain his confidence. I believe he will become a big play maker for the Rams similar to what Kendricks has done so far. I would say the same about Salas as well. They are both a work in progress.

    Patience grasshopper.

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