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Season wears on Avery

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  • Season wears on Avery

    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 to get worn down physically, as well as

    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
    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
      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
        Re: Season wears on Avery

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


        • #5
          Re: Season wears on Avery

          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.


          Related Topics


          • RamWraith
            Avery Ready to Make an Impact
            by RamWraith
            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...
            -09-27-2008, 06:31 AM
          • eldfan
            Rams' Avery gets back up to speed
            by eldfan
            Rams' Avery gets back up to speed
            BY JIM THOMAS

            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, 11:53 AM
          • 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, 08:44 PM
          • 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, 07:52 PM
          • RamWraith
            Veteran lets Avery know he has to prove himself
            by RamWraith
            By Bill Coats
            Thursday, May. 15 2008

            Seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt wasn't inclined to grant fellow wide receiver
            Donnie Avery, the Rams' second-round pick in last month's draft, much latitude
            during minicamp this past weekend. "He came to me a couple of times, shouting
            at me," Avery reported.

            Asked his early impressions of Avery, Holt said tersely, "Right now, I don't
            have any impressions of Donnie Avery. ... Hopefully, during training camp he'll
            show me something."

            It's not that Holt is unhappy with Avery; he just wants to let him know that he
            has to prove himself before he can run with the big dogs. Which is fine with
            Avery. "I like that," he said. "When other people are strict on me, it brings
            the best out of me."

            After spending the 33rd overall selection on Avery, the Rams are counting on
            getting his best. That starts with his running ability: He can zip 40 yards in
            4.29 seconds, giving the Rams a much-needed downfield threat.

            The added speed makes "a big difference," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We can
            put him inside against some nickel defensive backs or some linebackers. But at
            the same time, he's going to have to ... do some other things, because if they
            know every time he comes in that we're going deep, they have answers for that."

            The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Avery proved at the University of Houston that he
            offers more than a sprinter's package, especially during a senior season in
            which he piled up 91 catches, a Conference USA-record 1,456 yards and seven

            "He's not just a pure track guy," said Billy Devaney, the Rams' vice president
            of player personnel. "This guy is a legitimate wide receiver also."

            Houston had won a total of eight games in the four seasons before coach Art
            Briles arrived in 2003. Avery, a Houston native, turned down offers from more
            prominent football programs to stay at home.

            Briles "told me we'd do some special things," Avery said. The Cougars went 3-8
            in Avery's freshman year, then compiled a 24-15 mark over the next three
            seasons, concluding each with a bowl appearance.

            Briles, who left Houston for Baylor after the 2007 season, ran a wide-open,
            pass-heavy offense that allowed Avery and his fellow wideouts almost free rein.
            In fact, Briles didn't even have a playbook; schemes were drawn up in the
            meeting room, then transferred to the playing field.

            In stark contrast, Avery was seen lugging offensive coordinator Al Saunders'
            massive playbook around Rams Park. It's the size of a large metropolitan area's
            phone book.

            -05-15-2008, 05:29 AM