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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Season wears on Avery

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Dec. 18 2008


    Like many NFL neophytes, Rams wide receiver Donnie Avery hit the rookie wall.
    But he's over it now.

    "I've climbed over the wall," Avery said. "I can't say I went through it. I had
    to spend more time climbing over it."

    The climb was painful. That's because a recent MRI exam revealed that the
    fractured hip Avery suffered July 28 at training camp in Mequon, Wis., never
    fully healed.

    "I've still got a cracked hip," Avery said. "It's not healed."

    After missing a couple of weeks of practice, Avery returned for the Rams' third
    preseason game and has been playing ever since. Avery said he never had an MRI
    when he returned in mid-August.

    "So I've been playing on it the whole season," he said.

    When asked why he came back before the injury was fully healed, Avery said,
    "It's more about trying to be a team player. You help the team as much as
    possible without, I guess, going overboard and ending your career."

    Avery said he got through the discomfort by "psyching" himself up,
    concentrating on drills ... "and then, painkillers, too."

    Avery doesn't think he made the injury worse by playing on it, and has been
    told by team doctors to stay off the hip for eight to 10 weeks once the
    season's over to let the hairline fracture finally heal.

    Even without the injury, Avery showed all the signs in late November and early
    December of hitting the wall. That's the time of year when most college seasons
    are finished.

    "People are right. They say the NFL season is long, and there's training camp,
    and you play more games (than college)," said Billy Devaney, the Rams'
    executive vice president of player personnel. "But it's beyond that.

    "Any senior preparing for the draft, they show up in August for their last year
    in college, go through all of camp, go through their college season. As soon as
    the college season is over, Avery was in the Senior Bowl. They're preparing for
    the (scouting) combine, individual workouts. The draft comes. You've got
    minicamps two weeks later, all the offseason workouts."

    And the NFL season starts. So except for about a three-week period from the end
    of spring practices to the start of training camp, NFL rookies are going nearly
    nonstop for a year and a half.

    "These kids and I'm talking leaguewide it is a marathon," Devaney said. "So
    they are really worn down."

    Keep in mind, Avery isn't the biggest wide receiver around, at 5-11, 184
    pounds, making it easier for him to get worn down physically, as well as
    mentally.

    Avery's first NFL start came in Game 4 against Buffalo, which turned out to be
    Scott Linehan's last game as Rams head coach. Avery scored on a 37-yard run in
    that game, beginning a month's worth of big plays.

    There was that dramatic 43-yard catch against Washington, setting up the Josh
    Brown field goal that gave St. Louis its first victory. Against Dallas, Avery's
    42-yard touchdown catch got the Rams off and running in a 34-14 romp.

    The next week, he caught passes of 69, 44, and 35 yards, nearly sparking the
    Rams to an upset victory over New England. The 69-yarder went for a TD; Avery's
    game total of 163 receiving yards was the third-best figure for a rookie in
    franchise history.

    But opposing teams began to defend Avery differently. His hip started bothering
    him. And that rookie wall beckoned.

    Since New England, his longest play from scrimmage is a 29-yard reception Nov.
    16 at San Francisco. From Nov. 23 through Dec. 7, he had only three catches for
    32 yards against Chicago, Miami, and Arizona.

    Last Sunday against Seattle, Avery bounced back with six catches for 61 yards
    and two reverses for 11 yards. On Wednesday, Avery earned the Carroll
    Rosenbloom Award, which goes to the Rams' rookie of the year and is voted on by
    players and coaches.

    "He's going to be a great player," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I'd be
    surprised if he's not in the Pro Bowl in a couple of years. And I always
    mention Keenan (Burton) with him because they're both the same kind of guys.
    They work hard. They want to get better."

    They're talented. And they're willing to try to play through injuries. Burton,
    the Rams' other rookie wide receiver, has been battling knee problems much of
    the season.

    Besides staying healthy, Avery must work on his route running and minimize
    mistakes to move up to the elite level of NFL receivers. Throughout the season,
    Avery has had trouble with "hot reads" that is, route adjustments in blitz
    situations. There also have been some miscommunications with Bulger on some
    routes. But Bulger says Avery is making progress.

    "It's just a growing process," Bulger said. "With Isaac (Bruce) and Torry
    (Holt), when I came in they were already through that. They were the veterans
    and I was the rookie making the mistakes.

    "So this is my first time probably in my career where I've had to deal with
    younger guys and getting through those growing pains. So it's a process. It's
    not going to happen overnight. It can be frustrating at times, but they've come
    a long way from where they were in the spring."


  2. #2
    Mooselini's Avatar
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    Re: Season wears on Avery

    I certainly hope these guys become our star receivers of the future.

    Having them work a full offseason with Holt and coaches will most likely improve their play.

  3. #3
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    Re: Season wears on Avery

    I know DA will be back and better next season. He's got a lot of determination. I hope and pray that this year was just a spark of what he's got in store for the rest of his career. Too bad he couldn't have stayed here at home in Houston.

  4. #4
    C-Mob 71's Avatar
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    Re: Season wears on Avery

    Avery made some sick catches yesterday, can't wait to see this kid healthy and well rested.

  5. #5
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    Re: Season wears on Avery

    Quote Originally Posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
    Avery made some sick catches yesterday, can't wait to see this kid healthy and well rested.

    Yeah, he's got great skills. I told him he's going to have to hook me up with some signatures when he gets back home to visit.

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