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  • Avery Embraces All Roles

    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 game.

    Despite that breakthrough, Avery says he never questioned his ability to compete at the game’s highest level.

    “I knew I could play when I first got drafted to this league, going to OTAs and minicamps and stuff like that,” Avery said. “It wasn’t anything but just making plays.”

    Avery made enough plays that he was able to earn a starting position in this offseason and he says he spent his offseason working to refine his route running and soften his hands.

    With a new coaching staff in place, Avery made a strong first impression with more than just his speed.

    “I think Donnie’s a hard worker,” Shurmur said. “He’s a smart football player and he understands how to play the game. All those things matched with his great ability are going to make him a great for a long time.”

    All was going according to plan for Avery, who had adopted a leadership role of sorts among the team’s young receiving corps during the offseason program, until he suffered a broken foot during the team’s scrimmage at Lindenwood University on Aug. 7.

    That setback did nothing to quell Avery’s desire to improve, though. Originally diagnosed as a four-to-six week injury, Avery was back on the field in only a few weeks and would have been back out sooner had it been up to him.

    Champing at the bit to get back on the field, Avery even played a few plays in the preseason finale against Kansas City when many originally had him targeted for a return maybe as late as this week against Washington.

    Despite the injury, Avery remained confident in both his ability and his spot on the team but he also acknowledges that he’s just scratching the surface on his immense potential.

    “I have still got a ways to go,” Avery said. “It’s my second year, second time around. They gave me the role so it’s my time to step up and go with that role.”

    Avery’s role has expanded some in 2009, as well. On the opening kickoff last week, Avery was the one tasked with the job of returning the kick.

    Avery has no fear about taking on the kick return load again this week if he is called upon. It’s that confidence in his abilities that would give the coaches no pause about using him in any situation.

    “(He’s) very confident, but there’s a fine line between that cockiness and confidence and I think he understands what that line is,” Shurmur said. “He goes out there and plays hard. He trusts his ability, but yet he doesn’t become overconfident (because that’s) when you get sloppy.”

  • #2
    Re: Avery Embraces All Roles

    Avery needs to work on 'embracing' the freaking ball. He is very loose with that rock, but I like his hands. If he is really going to return kicks, I will be holding my breath every time.
    A defeated look of consternation, dissappointment, or even pain. The name derives from the look one often gets when challenged by a large BM.


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    • 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
    • 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

      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
    • Nick
      Avery focuses on rebound
      by Nick
      Posted 10 hours ago
      By Craig Kelley

      Donnie Avery is looking for opportunity in his fifth NFL season. Avery signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent in March hoping to continue a career that took off with a fast start. His work in spring practice vouches for why he was an early draft pick by St. Louis in 2008. Avery hopes 2012 is his year.

      INDIANAPOLIS – Donnie Avery entered the NFL as the first receiver taken in the 2008 draft, going in the second round to St. Louis as the 33rd overall selection.

      Avery experienced success right away. He started 12 of 15 games and finished second on the Rams with 53 receptions for 674 yards, and his three scoring receptions tied veteran Torry Holt for the team lead.

      Avery’s reception total was one shy of the club mark that was set 12 years earlier, and he came back in 2009 intent on keeping the arrow on his career graph pointing up. He did so by snaring 47 passes in 16 starts, amassing 589 yards and five touchdowns.

      Avery’s receptions ranked second on the team, but his yardage and scoring receptions topped the Rams. It was a fine career start that showed 100 receptions for 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns on a squad that was trying to make an impact in the NFC West.

      Avery’s career was stalled by a knee injury during the 2010 preseason. He missed the entire year and was waived during the last preseason. Avery joined Tennessee after the 2011 season was underway, and he caught three passes over eight games in a role explained early on as one that would be in a reserve capacity.

      Avery now is among the 50 new faces on a Colts roster that numbers 90 players, and he has been participating in spring work regularly, and at full speed. He feels very good about where he is physically.

      "It feels great. I’ve got the speed back out there,” said Avery. “I’m coming into this year not worrying about an ACL injury, so I feel good out there.

      “The confidence is coming back. I definitely feel comfortable. You don’t have to worry about planting (your leg in the turf). You’re just out there playing naturally, and I like it.”

      Rookies in this league often comment about the adjustment it takes to the speed of the NFL. Avery feels there is the same type of proving process when coming off an injury.

      “Yes, it is about the same. Think about it, I’ve been out a year and some change,” said Avery. “It’s all about getting your foot memory back, getting the joints back. You have to get the memory back in those areas. There is a lot of cutting and during the season, we have to make a lot of unorthodox cuts in our routes. It takes a toll on the joints, and you have to get that back.”

      Avery went through staff changes in St. Louis that affected his career. After joining the Titans last year after the season started and having to...
      -05-29-2012, 02:28 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, 04:29 AM