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Avery Ready to Make an Impact

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  • Avery Ready to Make an Impact

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    By Nick Wagoner

    Senior Writer

    Watching as fellow rookie wideouts around the league make a first impression – good or bad – in the first three games, Donnie Avery couldn’t help but wonder when his time would come.

    For every big play or boneheaded play made by Philadelphia ’s DeSean Jackson, Avery made note and hoped for his time to arrive.

    After three games of patiently working through a knee injury and working in limited duty, the time is now.

    Coach Scott Linehan named Avery the starter at the ‘Z’ receiver position on Wednesday and Avery will get his first career NFL start on Sunday against Buffalo.

    “I’m very excited,” Avery said. “I finally get to go out there and just have fun from the start. I don’t have to wait on the sidelines to get my opportunity.”

    When the Rams used the second pick of the second round to make Avery the first receiver taken in this year’s NFL Draft, they had hoped he could work behind starter Torry Holt and occasionally chip in as the third receiver.

    But injuries to Drew Bennett and fellow rookie Keenan Burton are out this week and the Rams offense is searching for a spark. When the Rams drafted Avery, they touted his game breaking speed.

    With that in mind, they are turning to Avery to inject that youth and speed into the offense.

    “That’s what everybody expects when they get drafted,” Avery said. “They want to get out on the field and start. That’s my goal. It’s sad to say people had to get hurt for me to get up there but that’s how it goes.”

    Avery was inactive in the opener against Philadelphia because of a knee injury that came on the heels of his return from a pelvic bone injury suffered early in training camp.

    Against New York in week 2, Avery played a little at receiver and returned a kick for 21 yards. Finally, last week against Seattle , Avery got his chance to work in at receiver, catching three passes for 24 yards.

    “He wants to get on the field and show what he can do,” coach Scott Linehan said. “I just want him to relax and play and use that speed.”

    The transition to a starter in the NFL from leading receiver for the Houston Cougars has not been an easy one.

    In addition to the pressures of being the first wide out taken, Avery is dealing with plenty of new things.

    For one, Houston never had an actual playbook in any of Avery’s time there. The playbook was nonexistent and Avery could move all over the field and get the ball in any given scenario.

    Contrast the lack of a playbook to a playbook that Avery compares to a phone directory and one could see how a rookie receiver in offensive coordinator Al Saunders’ system might have his head spinning early and often with confusion.

    Compounding matters was a recent position change that has slowed Avery’s ability to contribute right away.

    Soon after arrival, the Rams decided Avery should learn the ‘X’ receiver position behind Holt. When injuries struck and the team realized it needed to add Avery’s element of speed, he moved to the ‘Z’ position, the spot he will start on Sunday.

    Although it’s not a terribly difficult move – he essentially has to learn the play calls backward to recognize which route is his in the play call – there still is plenty of thinking that goes into it.

    In last week’s game against Seattle , quarterback Marc Bulger had to help Avery get lined up right and remind him of where to be on a given play.

    Other subtle differences between the wide out positions exist, such as the ‘Z’ receiver is generally lined up off the line off scrimmage where the ‘X’ receiver is on it.

    After a little time at his new spot last week, Avery is getting most of the work at the ‘Z’ this week in practice.

    “When you’re able to practice there and last week he got a lot of reps at ‘Z’, so he’s been able to work there full time this week and the more you work at anything you get more comfortable with it,” Linehan said. “He hasn’t had any issues as far as that goes.”

    Make no mistake; Avery is taking his newfound starting duties serious. He spent an extra 30 minutes or so after Thursday’s practice catching passes from Brock Berlin and fine tuning his route running.

    Avery has also spent extra time picking the brain of accomplished veterans Holt and Eddie Kennison, doing anything he can to ensure he can make a difference against the Bills.

    “My first reaction was I have to go out there and step up and play like I have been here for a while and just go out there and do my thing,” Avery said.

    Avery isn’t making a big deal about his start, though. He only has one extra friend in town for this weekend’s game, his friend Ron Swinton, a Navy man who arrived in St. Louis from where he’s stationed in Virginia on Thursday afternoon.

    So, with his friend in town and his first real opportunity to play Sunday, what can Rams fans expect should he be fortunate enough to score?

    Avery says he is planning an intricate dance move if he finds the end zone but promises he will ensure the ball crosses the goal line before any celebration ensues.

    As far as Avery can tell from some of the success other rookies are having around the league, it’s due time for him to join in the fun.

    “I do look at some of the highlights and stuff,” Avery said. “I know they are out there doing their thing. That’s motivation for me. Young guys coming in, doing our thing, that’s a lot of motivation. That helps me.”

  • #2
    Re: Avery Ready to Make an Impact

    I like his confidence and attitude. If he keeps the good job going, keep Bennett on the bench and start Avery. He's got the speed we used to have in Kevin Curtis. I'm excited to watch the stats on this weekend because I can't watch the game.


    • #3
      Re: Avery Ready to Make an Impact

      I knew there was some reason I was excited about this game, but I couldnt think of it. We get to see what Avery can do.


      Related Topics


      • r8rh8rmike
        Avery Embraces All Roles
        by r8rh8rmike
        Avery Embraces All Roles
        Thursday, September 17, 2009

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        The ball seemed to hang in the air forever and a day and for every tick that went by before it landed, an entire stadium and two sidelines full of football players held their breath as though the simple act of breathing would somehow alter the ball’s final destination.

        Rams receiver Donnie Avery ran a simple ‘9’ route, using his blazing speed to get deep in the Redskins secondary. Earlier in the game, he’d run the same route but failed to adjust to a pass that was slightly underthrown.

        This time, Avery knew exactly what to do. As the pass floated down the right sideline, Avery stopped his sprint cold, turned back toward the ball and dived to his left to haul in a 43-yard pass to Washington’s 16.

        It was a play that would ultimately spark the Rams to their first win in 2008 and the one that let the rest of the football world know that Avery was soon to be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.

        It’s been almost a year since Avery made that play and a lot has changed since then. So much, in fact, that Avery has essentially put one of the first big plays of his young NFL career out of his mind.

        “That was last year,” Avery said. “Now, we have got to make some 2009 memories.”

        When Avery made that catch last season, he was viewed as a speedster with plenty of potential but he wasn’t considered one of the team’s top targets. When the Rams return to the scene of the crime at FedEx Field in Washington D.C. on Sunday, Avery will come widely regarded as one of, if not the, team’s top receiving option.

        Since then, the Rams have said goodbye to the likes of Torry Holt, Drew Bennett and Dane Looker. Avery has ascended the depth chart under new coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur based on a combination of speed, improved route running ability and a work ethic that has impressed the coaching staff.

        “I’m going to tell you what, he’s one of the harder working guys we’ve got, one of the hardest working guys,” Spagnuolo said. “He is always doing that, whether it’s special teams, whether it’s running a route, whether it’s doing extra conditioning when he was hurt…I have got a lot of respect for him. I think he’s exactly what you need on your team.”

        Avery’s big game in the nation’s capital was the opening act to a month in which he would burst on the scene to earn a nomination for NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month.

        The following week against Dallas, Avery posted his first receiving touchdown on a 42-yard grab and he followed that with a career-best 163 yards on six catches against New England on Oct. 26.

        All told, Avery had 14 catches for 291 yards in the month and served notice to the NFL that he would need to be accounted for in the passing...
        -09-17-2009, 08:52 PM
      • 01d 0rd3r
        Avery Steps to Front.
        by 01d 0rd3r
        Like most teams in the NFL, attrition begins to take its toll on rosters around the league the deeper into the season you get. That’s certainly held true in the case of the Rams and nowhere is that more evident than at the receiver position.

        At a position that was short on experience entering the season, there’s been only one constant. That constant is a blur in blue, wearing No. 17 named Donnie Avery.

        No matter which quarterback has been under center, the one player that signal caller has been able to count on this year is Avery, the second-year speedster out of Houston.

        “You get comfortable with certain guys,” quarterback Kyle Boller said. “I just started taking reps with these guys again. Donnie is probably one of the ones I’m more comfortable with because he’s been around for training camp and mini camps and all that kind of stuff. I feel like each and every week we get more comfortable with each other. That’s the name of the game. Timing is what it’s all about.”

        After an up and down start to this, his second season in the league, Avery has timed his emergence at a good time.

        It’s difficult for any young player to have an immediate impact but receivers rarely make that much of a difference unless their name is Randy Moss.

        In the offseason, the Rams’ receiver corps went through an extreme makeover, leaving Avery and fellow second year wideout Keenan Burton as the most tenured players at the position on the roster.

        But at least entering the year, Avery was surrounded by players like Laurent Robinson and Burton, guys who had been in the new offense installed by coordinator Pat Shurmur for the entirety of the offseason program.

        Fast forward to now and Avery is the only active wideout on the roster who was also on it when the preseason came to an end.

        Whether he was ready for an expanded leadership role or not, Avery was thrust into it as the most experienced guy on the team.

        “I don’t try to go out and yell during the week or go crazy,” Avery said. “I just try to lead by example and go out there, practice hard and hopefully go into the game, play hard and have success.”

        Since the beginning of the season, the Rams have lost Robinson and Burton to season-ending injuries. Derek Stanley was released to make room for Danny Amendola and the likes of Nate Jones and Tim Carter have made appearances on the roster.
        The Rams have replaced those players with youngsters like Amendola and Brandon Gibson as well as more experienced guys like Ruvell Martin and Jordan Kent.

        But none of those players have been around or have the rapport with the quarterbacks like Avery and all of those receivers are quick to turn to Avery with questions.

        “I just try to calm them,” Avery says of the younger wideouts. “Sometimes, I see them on the sideline with jitters and tell them I...
        -12-10-2009, 09:44 PM
      • eldfan
        Rams' Avery gets back up to speed
        by eldfan
        Rams' Avery gets back up to speed

        One of the criticisms of the Rams' draft was that they didn't select a speedster at wide receiver, someone who could stretch secondaries and keep defenses from ganging up on Steven Jackson.

        But a familiar and occasionally maligned name from the recent past, Donnie Avery, still could fill that bill.

        Avery says he's "a good 92-93 percent" recovered from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The injury, which occurred in the Rams' Aug. 26 preseason game in New England, cost him the entire 2010 season.

        For most of this lockout-marred offseason, Avery has been rehabbing and training in his hometown of Houston, working with a strength coach and a track coach.

        "Just trying to get back up to speed," he said. "Because you know with injuries like this, a lot of guys, they lose their quick-twitch muscles."

        And Avery has had more quick-twitch than all but a select few human beings. His speed has been his greatest asset.

        "Last week, I clocked a 4.34," Avery said after Wednesday's player-organized Rams practice at Lindenwood University.

        That's nearly one-tenth of a second off Avery's personal best in the 40-yard dash — 4.27 seconds — but still a sizzling time. Since he's not 100 percent healthy, the NFL lockout actually has been a positive for Avery.

        "It's been a great thing for me," Avery laughed. "I didn't want to miss OTAs, but the lockout is postponing them so it's given me more time to be healthy."

        In normal times, the Rams would be in the third week of the spring practices, also known as organized team activities, and Avery might have been tempted to rush back into action. But with the lockout he has been able to ease back in, minimizing the possibility of setbacks.

        He was part of the Houston workouts prior to the draft that involved Sam Bradford and many of the team's receivers, and is taking part in the Lindenwood sessions. But these workouts are shorter and more relaxed than minicamps, and Avery can go at his own pace.

        Besides working to get his knee right, Avery has changed his diet.

        "I slimmed down a little bit," Avery said. "I got up to 203 (pounds) but I didn't feel comfortable with it. So right now I'm like 190, 191. It's like 3.8 percent body fat. For dinner (Tuesday) night, I had 4.2 ounces of fish, 2.2 cups of brown rice, and a cup of green beans. So it's training right, eating a lot of proteins, and just working on my speed."

        With a new offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels and a new scheme, the Rams drafted two wide receivers last month in Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. But Avery said he didn't have much of a reaction either way when the picks were made.
        -05-26-2011, 12:53 PM
      • RamWraith
        Season wears on Avery
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        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...
        -12-18-2008, 05:29 AM
      • RamWraith
        Avery: 'I guess I'm a playmaker'
        by RamWraith
        By Bill Coats
        Monday, Oct. 13 2008
        LANDOVER, MD. — As the referee reviewed wide receiver Donnie Avery's diving
        grab at Washington's 16-yard line with 39 seconds remaining Sunday, the Rams
        rookie insisted that he wasn't worried.

        "No doubt in my mind that I had the ball," Avery said. "I knew it was a catch
        ... and I knew it was a fantastic catch at that."

        Avery laid out to haul in the toss from quarterback Marc Bulger for a 43-yard
        pickup on a third-and-13 play. Three snaps later, Josh Brown's 49-yard field
        goal gave the Rams a 19-17 victory.

        Offensive coordinator Al Saunders ordered play "999" — the same one that Kurt
        Warner and Isaac Bruce completed for the decisive 73-yard touchdown in Super
        Bowl XXXIV.

        "And it looked like that," said wideout Torry Holt, who sprinted
        stride-for-stride with Bruce to the end zone on Jan. 30, 2000, in Atlanta. "At
        that point, it comes down to the individual. And Donnie did a great job of
        stopping, finding the flight of the ball, and cutting back inside and catching

        Avery, a 5-foot-11, 184-pound speedster from the University of Houston, was the
        Rams' second-round draft pick (No. 33 overall) — the first wideout selected. A
        pelvic fracture in training camp and then a knee injury that kept him out of
        the season opener delayed Avery's chance to prove that he deserved such status.

        "The kid's going to go through a learning experience," coach Jim Haslett said.
        "But he did a nice job."

        Running back Steven Jackson recalled the oft-repeated subject of playmakers
        getting opportunities to make plays during the week leading up to the game.
        "And (Avery) showed why Coach Haslett referenced him as one of the guys that
        needs to touch the ball," Jackson said.

        With a broad smile, Avery said, "I guess I'm a playmaker, huh?"

        On the same route earlier, he didn't make the play, as Bulger's pass fell short
        of the streaking Avery. Wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, a pass catcher of
        considerable repute during his 16-year NFL career, had some advice for the

        "He told me to come back to the ball; I tend to fade away from the ball," Avery
        explained. "I saw the ball in the air for a long time, and I knew I was behind
        the cornerback (Leigh Torrence), so I knew I had to come back to the ball, and
        that's what I did."

        Bulger unloaded with "pretty much all I had," he said. "It's tough to overthrow
        Donnie, and with that one-on-one matchup, it was perfect."

        Center Nick Leckey had a good look as Avery stretched out. "I...
        -10-13-2008, 11:38 AM