Torry Holt out to cap sterling decade with Rams
Receiver is entering his 10th season in NFL

BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat


MEQUON, Wis. --St. Louis Rams wide receiver Torry Holt hopes to put the finishing touches on a decade of excellence.

Playing 10 years in the NFL was Holt's goal when he entered the league in 1999. He'll fulfill that objective this year.

"This is my 10th season," Holt said Saturday after the first of the Rams' two training camp practice sessions. "It's a very, very, very important year for me. That has been the motivating factor for me. When I came into the National Football League, I wanted to give the National Football League 10 years of consistency. I have this year to hopefully complete that, and then go from there."

Holt, 32, has put up eight straight seasons with more than 80 receptions and 1,100 receiving yards, yet he feels like he needs to prove that his skills haven't eroded with time.

"My 10th season, you know how it is," Holt said. "You're getting in your 30s and stuff, and people start saying that you don't have it anymore, you start losing a step.

"And, rightfully so. I want to come out and be able to say that in my 10th year in the National Football League, I came out and played well."

Holt led the Rams with 93 receptions, 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but it was a difficult season for him as the Rams struggled to a 3-13 record and he struggled to manage a sore knee. The offseason wasn't much better for Holt, who had to say goodbye to his mentor and good friend, Isaac Bruce, who was released by the Rams and subsequently signed by the San Francisco *****.

"It's different, but I have vented my frustration and moved on," Holt said of not seeing Bruce at training camp. "I'm happy for Isaac. I saw him over the offseason and I talked to him a little bit.

"I wish Isaac was here, but I'm going to work with the guys we have and we're going to try to give it the best we've got."

Holt also created an uproar with his comments about wishing he could join his brother, Terrence Holt, in playing for the Carolina Panthers. Holt, who has two years left on the seven-year, $42 million contract that he signed with the Rams in 2003, grew up in Gibsonville, N.C., and played at North Carolina State.

"I'm done with that," Holt said when asked about those comments. "I am a Ram for 2008, and hopefully for 2009, and that's where we are going to be."

Holt said he's focused on getting the Rams back on the winning track.

"It's about the 2008 Rams and getting ourselves in position to win some games," Holt said. "I don't care if we win four games. That's one better than we did last year."

Holt believes that the Rams have the talent to win more than four games. He also thinks that they can earn a playoff berth for the first time since 2004.

"It's early, but guys are talking and thinking playoffs and thinking NFC West Championship and Super Bowl," Holt said. "That's inspiring. Now all we have to do is take that thought and put it into action.

"If we can stay along those lines and keep working at it everyday, I think we have a real good shot of doing something."

Holt said his balky knee is feeling better after resting it most of the offseason.

"I don't have to ice as much as I did last year, so that is a good sign," Holt said. "There's not as much swelling as I had last year. My flexibility is back."

Holt said nursing his knee back to health was his No. 1 priority in the offseason.

"A lot of yoga, a lot of stretching, a lot of leg strengthening, a lot of pool work ... just working my tail off, man, to try to come out this year and help us get things turned around," Holt said.

The Rams are allowing Holt to monitor how much work he gets in practice, though he admittedly has hard time taking himself out of the action.

"I have to continue to talk to myself and say, 'Hey Torry, just pull back, just relax. This is a long camp and continue to kind of work your way in slowly,"' Holt said. "For the most part, I'm learning to listen to myself a lot more these days."

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said Holt has learned that the savviness he's gained through his years in the NFL can offset any physical limitations.

"I think guys who are a little later in their career -- I'm getting there -- can get away with some physical things because of their knowledge," Bulger said. "The NFL, and you never get it, when you are younger, is more mental than physical."

That being said, Bulger doesn't think Holt is lacking in his physical skills.

"His technique is better than any receiver in the league, and his physical abilities are still unbelievable," Bulger said. "I saw him in there yesterday dunking and running up and down the (basketball) court for a half hour before practice. He still has it."