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Simply put, the Rams wide receivers get it

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  • Simply put, the Rams wide receivers get it

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 29 2004

    While injury and personnel questions have swirled around almost every other
    position on the Rams roster, all is calm at wide receiver.

    The quarterbacks throw the football, the wide receivers run and get it. It's
    that simple for what is shaping up as one of the league's deepest receiving
    corps.

    "All of them can line up, and all of them can play," wide receivers coach Henry
    Ellard said. "It's a neat situation to have guys that have the kind of talent
    they have."

    Receivers Kelvin Kight, Derek McCoy, Brian Sump and Michael Coleman were cut by
    the Rams over the past three weeks. They never really had a chance.

    Not with Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Dane Looker, Kevin Curtis, Mike Furrey and
    Shaun McDonald on the roster. Three games into the exhibition season, they're
    the only wide receivers who have caught a pass for the Rams. And barring
    injury, it'll be the same way in the regular season.

    Quarterback Chris Chandler, entering his 17th NFL season, calls the Rams' depth
    of talent at wide receiver "as good as I've ever seen. Starting with the two
    big guys, and then from there on, you look at everyone else we have: Mac,
    Furrey, Kevin. Dane is as solid as they come inside."

    The two "big guys," of course, are Bruce and Holt. They have formed one of the
    league's better wide receiver tandems over the past five seasons.

    "Isaac's age-defying," Looker said. "I don't know how he does it. I guess he's
    in his 30s, but he still plays like he's 22 or 23. So I'm not sure if he'll
    ever get too old to play this game. He's in phenomenal shape. But he works at
    it. He's always in the weight room working out extra, and stretching, and
    working on his flexibility.

    "And Torry's just out there with so much energy, and I think that's what fuels
    him. Torry's out there having fun with the game, and he stays young that way,
    too."

    Bruce, who turns 32 in November, has looked particularly frisky this preseason.
    Holt, 28, showed what he brings to the table with a seven-catch, 143-yard
    performance Friday against Washington.
    But at the risk of taking them for granted, Bruce and Holt are givens. What
    could set this receiving corps apart is the development of the guys behind
    them: Looker, Curtis, McDonald, and Furrey.

    "There's not too many teams in the league that have as much depth as we do
    right now," Looker said. "We can plug guys in about any position and we're
    ready to go.

    "You have Kevin with a lot of speed. Shaun, with his quickness and his moves. I
    play more of a third-down situation. Mike's kind of a mixture of everybody.
    He's got speed; he's got quickness; he's tough."

    Last year at this time, Curtis was out with a broken leg, McDonald was worn
    down from training camp, and Looker and Furrey were unproven.

    But Looker emerged to finish third on the Rams in receptions (47), receiving
    yards (495) and touchdown catches (three) last season.

    "Dane's solid," Ellard said. "You don't have to worry about Dane because he's
    going to be where he needs to be, when he needs to be there."

    Furrey played enough last season to finish with 20 catches, and has quietly had
    a good camp.

    "You can rely on Mike," Ellard said. "He's going to play fast. He's going to
    make the tough catch inside. He's our utility guy; he can play pretty much
    every position."

    By every position, Ellard meant split end (Holt's position); flanker (Bruce's
    spot); or either of the slot positions in the Rams' three- and four-wide
    receiver sets.

    In terms of pass catching, McDonald has had the most impressive preseason, with
    eight catches for 170 yards. At his best, he looks like Az-Zahir Hakim without
    the fumbles: small, quick, elusive, and dangerous in the open field.

    But McDonald has struggled with his consistency, dropping more passes than he
    should in practice, and occasionally missing sight adjustments, or hot reads,
    when the opposing team is blitzing.

    "Playing with that consistency, week in and week out, is not an easy thing to
    do," Ellard said. "It comes with time."

    Finally rounding into form from the broken leg, Curtis was given the better
    part of a week off prior to the Kansas City game because of shin splint
    problems.

    "He was just exhausted," Ellard said. "We backed him off a little bit, and he
    seemed to respond well."

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  • RamWraith
    Looker gets noticed with big game
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Sep. 05 2005

    The forgotten man in the Rams' receiver corps, Dane Looker, showed Friday that
    he remains alive, well, and ready for whatever role he might have in the St.
    Louis offense this season.

    "I know Kevin (Curtis) and Shaun (McDonald) are great players, and they're
    getting a lot of attention right now," Looker said. "I've just got to make sure
    that Coach (Mike Martz) knows that I'm still here. I'm still the same guy that
    caught 47 balls a couple years ago."

    Looker, 29, did his best to get noticed in Friday's exhibition finale against
    Kansas City. He caught a team-high four passes - good for 56 yards - in the
    Rams' 27-23 victory over the Chiefs. Included in his night's work was the
    game-winning 20-yard touchdown catch with 3 minutes 42 seconds to play.

    "It was just a play where I'm coming across the formation, a crossing route,"
    Looker said. "I try to outflank the defense. Thankfully, Madison Hedgecock
    threw a heck of a block down there, got the guy on the ground, which enabled me
    to score."

    Although not known as a speedster, Looker turned up field after making the
    catch and raced down the sideline to the end zone.

    "I can run when I have to," Looker said. "I kind of always get that possession
    tag on me. But most of my catches, I have my back to the defense. Most of those
    interior slot things. A couple of times (Friday), I got to catch it and turn up
    the field."

    Looker enters the season as the No. 5 wide receiver on the roster, behind
    Curtis, McDonald and starters Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

    "He did not have the preseason that I'd want him to have," Martz said. "I think
    (Friday) night he played very well. He just needed to play. He figures very big
    into our plans. ... He absolutely has a role. We mix all five of those guys
    into different personnel groups."

    Ram-blings

    Defensive tackle Jeremy Calahan, wide receiver Jeremy Carter, center-guard Toby
    Cecil, defensive end Clifford Dukes, offensive tackle Matt Morgan, wide
    receiver Dominique Thompson and cornerback Duvol Thompson have been signed to
    the Rams' practice squad. All had been cut from the Rams' preseason roster.

    More than $70,000 was raised in the Rams' Hurricane Katrina relief drive before
    the Kansas City game.
    -09-05-2005, 04:12 PM
  • RamDez
    WRs Face Intense Battle for Roster Spots
    by RamDez
    WRs Face Intense Battle for Roster Spots
    Monday, August 2, 2004


    By NICK WAGONER
    Staff Writer


    Battles for roster spots are perhaps the biggest staple of training camp life. Every year young hopefuls eye the spots of grizzled veterans with dreams of stardom on their mind.

    Rewind one year to Macomb, Ill., the summer home of the St. Louis Rams and the battles were numerous. There was the jockeying for the quarterback job, among others, but none of the competitions was as heated as the one at wide receiver. By the end of camp, six receivers had emerged at the head of the class.

    It comes as somewhat of a surprise, then, that this year there seems to be a solid wall around the chosen six, a wall that will be difficult for any of the ambitious youngsters to break through.

    Kevin Curtis , one of the six who appears safe in his position, said the receiving corps looks great in the first week of camp.

    “We are pretty solid for receiver,” Curtis said. “Obviously you have Ike (Bruce) and Torry (Holt) and Dane (Looker) that did their thing last year, but we also have me, Mike Furrey and Shaun (McDonald).

    “I feel like all of us can contribute.”

    At the top of the depth chart is one of the league’s best receiving duos. Isaac Bruce has established himself as “Mr. St. Louis Ram.” He is the only player who has been with the team since it moved to St. Louis and has posted some of the most astonishing numbers for any receiver, ever. Bruce enters 2004 with career totals of 688 catches, 10,461 yards and 68 touchdown, one of just 15 players to hold team records in all three categories.

    Holt officially made “the leap” in 2003. The leap doesn’t refer to one of Holt’s acrobatic catches in traffic, but rather his move from Pro Bowl receiver to one of the league’s elite wideouts with Bruce. Holt led the league with 117 catches and 1,696 yards and was second in touchdowns with 12. Holt’s breakthrough was expected, but the timing of it was surprising because of the changing situation at quarterback.

    A year ago, the picture was muddled after the Holt and Bruce combination. When the season ended, though, it was clear where everyone sat. Looker , who worked his way from the practice squad and through stops in NFL Europe to make the roster in training camp and moved into the vacant No. 3 spot. Looker provided a valuable set of hands and admirably replaced the departed Ricky Proehl as a go-to-guy in third-down situations.

    “I think once you get playing time and have all that success, you don’t want to give that up,” Looker said. “I want to be the third receiver this year and I expect to be when this is all said and done.”

    The Rams’ other pleasant surprise was the unknown and little-used Furrey. Furrey took a path similar to Looker, making his name in the Arena Football League before St. Louis signed him. Furrey...
    -08-02-2004, 02:22 PM
  • RamWraith
    Young guns bring new energy to offense
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Oct. 13 2004

    At its apex, the Greatest Show on Turf wasn't just about Marshall Faulk, or
    Isaac Bruce, or Torry Holt, or Kurt Warner. It was about all of them - and
    more. Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl as the No. 3 and No. 4 wide receivers.
    Roland Williams, and then Ernie Conwell, at tight end.

    Make no mistake, Faulk, Bruce and Holt were the money players. Still are. But
    there simply were too many options across the board. You couldn't cover them
    all. And that was the beauty of the offense back in the "glory days."
    Which brings us to the Rams' back-to-back victories over San Francisco and
    Seattle. In those contests, the Rams' seven touchdowns were scored by wide
    receiver Shaun McDonald (two), wide receiver Kevin Curtis (one), running back
    Steven Jackson (one), tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (one), fullback Joey
    Goodspeed (one), and quarterback Marc Bulger (one).

    Since the start of the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl championship season, Faulk, Bruce
    and Holt have scored 159 touchdowns. Until that Oct. 3 San Francisco game, the
    Rams had gone 24 consecutive contests with Faulk, Bruce or Holt scoring at
    least one TD.

    But now, for the first time with Faulk, Bruce and Holt on the roster and
    available to play, the Rams have won back-to-back games with none of the three
    scoring a TD.

    Could it be a sign that the "good old days" are back on offense? Are the Rams
    developing the kind of multiple options that characterized the '99, 2000, and
    2001 squads? (All three of those teams scored 500-plus points.)

    Coach Mike Martz stopped short of such a sweeping assessment. Way short.

    "This is totally different," he said after the Seattle game. "This is just a
    completely different team. We're just trying to find a way to win."

    Not that the youngsters aren't making life easier for the Rams offensively.

    "Some of these young players are stepping to the forefront right now," Martz
    said. "These guys now are taking the load off some of the other players. And as
    they step to the forefront, that makes it easier to manage the game. These
    other guys, now, you've got to account for them."

    Leave it to free safety Aeneas Williams to dream of the possibilities.

    "You have a dual threat at running back," Williams said. "You have four, five
    receivers. Why wouldn't you think that you have the potential to have an
    explosive offense like we did before?"

    The emergence of Dane Looker last season gave the Rams at least a reasonable
    facsimile of Proehl, who signed with Carolina following...
    -10-13-2004, 06:26 AM
  • RamWraith
    Receiver a Tough Spot to Crack
    by RamWraith
    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    There are few scenarios in the NFL where a player can simultaneously be placed in a great and terrible situation.

    For Dominique Thompson and the rest of the young, inexperienced receivers on the Rams’ depth chart, that is the exact circumstance they face as they pursue roster spots with the team.

    On one hand, Thompson and the likes of Taylor Stubblefield, Jeremy Carter and Clinton Solomon have the immense benefit of learning the NFL receiving ropes from the likes of Pro Bowlers and potential Hall of Famers such as Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Further, players like Shaun McDonald, Kevin Curtis and Dane Looker have proved themselves in the league and provide even more insight to pass catching in the league.

    The flip and down side to that is the fact that there are only 53 roster spots on an active NFL roster. Of those 53, few teams ever keep more than six receivers. In other words, players such as Thompson, Stubblefield, Carter, etal., are long shots to crack the Rams’ depth chart.

    “We are solid,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “When we are a healthy team, I can’t imagine there being many teams that have a much deeper corps than we have at wide receiver and the talent we have. We are happy with their production throughout camp and we are happy with their effort.”

    There is little doubt that the group of Holt, Bruce, Curtis, McDonald and Looker are safe in their positions. Holt and Bruce, of course, have been linchpins of the offense for years and have showed no signs of slowing.

    Take Holt’s approach to the preseason as the perfect example of how he can simultaneously help and hurt the younger receivers.

    “I take every single year…and try to earn myself a spot on this football team, try to be in shape, try to study the playbook, and take notes like I did as a rookie,” Holt said. “I am always looking to get better and I am always trying to earn a spot. Anything can happen. I always say I control my destiny if I go in and handle my business. Then I have an opportunity to get a spot.”

    That approach does a couple of things. One, it sets an excellent example for the younger receivers on how to approach the job like a professional. But it also means that the bar is immediately going to be set high to make the squad as a receiver.

    Olson, in his first year as offensive coordinator for the Rams, has been wowed by what he sees from the receiving corps on a daily basis.

    “(They’re) unbelievable,” Olson said. “Every day they do something new. It’s fun to watch more than anything. You are in awe quite often. It’s one thing to see a receiver make a great play once a week, but when you are...
    -08-22-2006, 06:16 PM
  • RamWraith
    TSN Rams Report
    by RamWraith
    Jim Thomas

    DE Bryce Fisher likely will start, probably on the right side. Fisher is relentless and quick off the line, and he has some good pass-rush moves. How Fisher will hold up against the run is unknown. . . .

    Rookie C Larry Turner might not be ready to play this year, but the team doesn't need him to because it has Dave Wohlabaugh and LG Andy McCollum, who also can play center. But Turner has impressed coaches this spring, displaying good technique and quick feet in pass-blocking drills. He has a thick lower body, allowing him to anchor against bigger defenders. Turner needs to get stronger and more acquainted with the team's complex pass blocking schemes.

    WIDE RECEIVERS ANALYSIS:

    Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce form one of the NFL's best duos. Holt has overtaken Bruce as the No. 1 option. Holt has it all: hands, speed and run-after-the-catch ability. But Bruce, 31, still commands plenty of respect. He remains one of the best at getting in and out of breaks, and he delivers in the clutch. Dane Looker excels on third downs and in the red zone as a slot receiver. Mike Furrey made enough plays the second half of 2003 to enter camp as the No. 4 option. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald need strong training camps to dent the top four after injuries wrecked their rookie seasons. Curtis has the speed to stretch defenses. McDonald is shifty and could thrive in the slot. He also has potential as a punt returner.
    -06-21-2004, 06:04 PM
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