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  • Backups boost passing game

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/15/2005

    As he soared for Marc Bulger's second-quarter pass in the end zone Sunday, Kevin Curtis knew that the ball and ***** strong safety Tony Parrish would arrive simultaneously, and that it wouldn't be pleasant.

    Sure enough, Parrish hammered Curtis, knocking the ball away and leaving the Rams' wide receiver stunned. But Curtis hauled himself off the turf and back into the fray.

    "I was a little dizzy for a second," he said, "but I was fine."

    Curtis also suffered a dislocated ring finger on his right hand in the opening minutes and a slightly sprained ankle in the second half. Yet he persevered, winding up with seven catches for 63 yards. He assured that none of his assorted dings would hinder him Sunday, when the Rams play at Arizona.

    "I'm good to go," said Curtis, a 5-foot-11, 186-pound speedster from Utah State.

    The continuing emergence of Curtis and fellow third-year wideout Shaun McDonald - he also made seven catches, for 73 yards, in the Rams' 28-25 loss to the ***** - not only adds to coach Mike Martz's arsenal, but also removes some of the burden from first-teamers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

    After combining for 14 catches and 75 yards as rookies in 2003, both young wideouts had breakthrough seasons last year. McDonald, 24, had 37 receptions for 394; Curtis, 27, caught 32 passes for 421 yards.

    "Both these guys can start just about anywhere," Martz said. "They're playing at a high level. They're a terrific, terrific addition to what we do offensively."

    Bulger launched a franchise-record 56 passes Sunday, which, on the surface, would appear to be a wide receiver's dream come true. But as Curtis noted, the circumstances behind that flurry of tosses weren't desirable.

    "Not when you have to throw, because that usually means that you're losing," he said. "Definitely, as a receiver, you like it when they put the ball up a lot. But when you're in a situation like that, it's not always ideal because you're trying to come from behind."

    The Rams charged back after lagging 28-9 early in the third quarter, and Curtis and McDonald were Bulger's main targets during the rally. Curtis had five catches for 49 yards and McDonald had four, also for 49 yards, from that point on. Holt, the leading receiver on the day (10 catches for 125 yards) did most of his damage in the first half.

    The season-opening defeat, particularly against a team that went 2-14 last year, has steeled the team's resolve for the outing against the Cardinals, Curtis stressed.

    "Any time you come off a loss, you're eager to just get back out on the field," he said. "You kind of have that bad taste in your mouth that you want to get out and have the good feeling of winning. As an offense as a whole, we're looking to kind of get on track. We know we can play a lot better than we did last week, put the whole 60 minutes together both running and passing. We've just been looking forward to this weekend."

  • #2
    Re: Backups boost passing game

    Curtis is playing tough. He took a couple of nice hits and continued to play well.

    The 49er secondary was playing close and aggressive. They made it difficult to move the ball, especially in the red zone.
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Backups boost passing game

      If McDonald can return punts, why can't Cutis return kickoffs. We could use his speed back there and good judgment.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Backups boost passing game

        Originally posted by Rambos
        If McDonald can return punts, why can't Cutis return kickoffs. We could use his speed back there and good judgment.
        It seems kickoff returners take much worse hits than punt returners. I'd hate to see our #3 receiver - who is a vital part of this offense - get injured returning a kickoff. maybe if he was a bigger guy...

        Comment

        Related Topics

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        • RamWraith
          Curtis ready for bigger things in St. Louis
          by RamWraith
          By Len Pasquarelli
          ESPN.com



          Maybe because Kevin Curtis was originally a walk-on at Utah State, where it took two years before coach Mike Dennehy finally granted him a scholarship, the speedy wide receiver never thought much about a career in professional football.

          So when a representative from the sports information office queried him about his career goals in 2000 as part of the standard player questionnaire, Curtis briefly hearkened back to his boyhood ambition in delivering what he assumed would be a forgettable reply.

          Problem is, Curtis' supposed throwaway answer has yet to be thrown away, except by him.

          Five years later, apparently with no one having thought about updating the "personal" section of his biography, the St. Louis Rams media guide still suggests Curtis "hopes to one day become a firefighter." The truth is, though, that the Rams' third-year wide receiver thinks a lot more these days about torching NFL secondaries than about extinguishing house fires.

          "The whole fireman thing, well, it just popped into my head," explained Curtis of the media-guide notation that followed him from college into the NFL. "I mean, here I was, just a walk-on, barely on the team and not much thinking about playing football after college. So 'fireman,' which I think is a really [admirable] job, seemed just as good an answer as any at the time. And somehow, I don't know, it just stuck with me."
          In the final three games of his 2004 season, however, NFL cornerbacks could barely stick with Curtis at all. Which helps explain why, looking to the 2005 season, Curtis, a third-round choice in 2003, figures to be climbing the St. Louis depth chart instead of a four-story extension ladder.

          And why the Rams, who have struggled at the No. 3 wide receiver spot since the quicksilver Az-Zahir Hakim departed as a free agent following the '01 season, might finally have located a viable playmaker to fill that key role.

          In terms of raw numbers, the various successors to Hakim, who averaged 37 catches, 508 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons in the wide-open St. Louis offense, have measured up. In order, Ricky Proehl (2002), Dane Looker (2003) and Shaun McDonald (2004), averaged 42.3 receptions, 485 yards and 3.3 touchdowns over the past three campaigns. But none of the three – McDonald and Looker remain with the Rams, and Proehl is now with Carolina – has the kind of big-play explosiveness Curtis demonstrated at the end of last season.

          In the regular-season finale against the New York Jets, a postseason wild-card victory at Seattle and then a defeat at Atlanta in the division round, Curtis totaled 17 receptions for 335 yards and one score. Curtis had at least one reception of 34 yards or more in each of those contests. In fact, in each of his final four appearances of 2004, he had...
          -06-28-2005, 05:00 AM
        • HUbison
          Curtis, McDonald Make Rams More Dangerous
          by HUbison
          Curtis, McDonald Make Rams More Dangerous

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          Ever since the 1999 Rams emerged on the scene as the “Greatest Show on Turf,” they have been known for their two outstanding receivers.

          The combination of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt might be one of the best the league has ever seen over a five-year span, but the dynamic duo might be on its way to becoming the NFL’s most explosive barbershop quartet.

          Ask anyone around Rams Park these days the biggest reason for optimism heading into this season and the answer will invariably involve the myriad possibilities of the offense. Those possibilities might not be so endless were it not for the emergence and development of the perfect compliments to the St. Louis version of Batman and Robin.

          Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald didn’t just arrive on the scene last season; they ran through it like world-class sprinters hopped up on Red Bull. Ask the Seattle Seahawks what they remember about their first meeting with the Rams last season and Nos. 83 and 84 will probably be mentioned followed by a slew of words that aren’t suitable for print.

          “I am real excited about the receivers, Kevin (Curtis), (Shaun) McDonald, everybody,” coach Mike Martz said. “It brings back a lot of memories from some of the guys we had in the past. They are just playing now. That’s when it’s fun is when you can come out here and do something and they know exactly what to do. You just start moving guys around in stuff we haven’t done in a while. You give them some creativity in their shifts and their moves and they are just like robots. They line up in man to man coverage and have different ways on a particular route to beat a guy.”

          In fact, the memories came rushing back to Martz so quickly that he goofed up on one of the opening days of training camp, asking “Trent” to take the team out of the huddle. Of course, by Trent he was referring to Trent Green, but he was actually talking to quarterback Marc Bulger.

          Excuse Martz if he is having flashbacks to the days when Az-zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl flanked Bruce and Holt in catching passes from an accurate quarterback with a quick release. Substitute Curtis and McDonald for Hakim and Proehl and Bulger for Green and the ingredients are in place for an offensive tour de force in St. Louis.

          The Rams spent the better part of a year waiting for Curtis and McDonald to get with the system. Unfortunately, both suffered through miserable, injury-plagued rookie seasons.

          Curtis played in four games in 2003, missing the first five games of the season with a broken fibula. McDonald played in eight games, but suffered a thumb injury that kept him out for four weeks. Those injuries didn’t necessarily keep Curtis and McDonald out for the whole season, but they might as well have.

          The injuries even slowed down Curtis...
          -08-02-2005, 10:00 AM
        • Nick
          Curtis, McDonald Make Rams More Dangerous - Wagoner
          by Nick
          Curtis, McDonald Make Rams More Dangerous
          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          Ever since the 1999 Rams emerged on the scene as the “Greatest Show on Turf,” they have been known for their two outstanding receivers.

          The combination of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt might be one of the best the league has ever seen over a five-year span, but the dynamic duo might be on its way to becoming the NFL’s most explosive barbershop quartet.

          Ask anyone around Rams Park these days the biggest reason for optimism heading into this season and the answer will invariably involve the myriad possibilities of the offense. Those possibilities might not be so endless were it not for the emergence and development of the perfect compliments to the St. Louis version of Batman and Robin.

          Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald didn’t just arrive on the scene last season; they ran through it like world-class sprinters hopped up on Red Bull. Ask the Seattle Seahawks what they remember about their first meeting with the Rams last season and Nos. 83 and 84 will probably be mentioned followed by a slew of words that aren’t suitable for print.

          “I am real excited about the receivers, Kevin (Curtis), (Shaun) McDonald, everybody,” coach Mike Martz said. “It brings back a lot of memories from some of the guys we had in the past. They are just playing now. That’s when it’s fun is when you can come out here and do something and they know exactly what to do. You just start moving guys around in stuff we haven’t done in a while. You give them some creativity in their shifts and their moves and they are just like robots. They line up in man to man coverage and have different ways on a particular route to beat a guy.”

          In fact, the memories came rushing back to Martz so quickly that he goofed up on one of the opening days of training camp, asking “Trent” to take the team out of the huddle. Of course, by Trent he was referring to Trent Green, but he was actually talking to quarterback Marc Bulger.

          Excuse Martz if he is having flashbacks to the days when Az-zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl flanked Bruce and Holt in catching passes from an accurate quarterback with a quick release. Substitute Curtis and McDonald for Hakim and Proehl and Bulger for Green and the ingredients are in place for an offensive tour de force in St. Louis.

          The Rams spent the better part of a year waiting for Curtis and McDonald to get with the system. Unfortunately, both suffered through miserable, injury-plagued rookie seasons.

          Curtis played in four games in 2003, missing the first five games of the season with a broken fibula. McDonald played in eight games, but suffered a thumb injury that kept him out for four weeks. Those injuries didn’t necessarily keep Curtis and McDonald out for the whole season, but they might as well have.

          The injuries even slowed down Curtis and McDonald...
          -08-18-2005, 01:59 PM
        • RamWraith
          Curtis, McDonald look to contribute to Rams offense
          by RamWraith
          Associated Press


          ST. LOUIS - For the first time since their rookie years, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are healthy and looking to contribute to the St. Louis Rams offense.

          Both were drafted in 2003 - Curtis in the third round out of Utah State and McDonald in the fourth round from Arizona State.

          The Rams believe the duo can be the replacements they have been seeking for Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl.

          Coach Mike Martz is happy to have both healthy and ready to go this season. He envisions using both in his wide-open offense.

          "I think they have a full grasp of what we're doing," Martz said. "You can put them anywhere you want - inside or outside or wherever. It's a great feeling to have those two guys."

          The expectations have been high for both players since they joined the club. Unfortunately, both receivers sustained setbacks in their rookie year because of injuries.

          Curtis, 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds with terrific hands, suffered a broken fibula and missed the first five games. McDonald broke a thumb and missed four games. Curtis saw action in just four games, catching four passes for 13 yards in 2003. McDonald, a 5-10, 183-pound speed merchant, played in 10 games, grabbing 10 catches for 62 yards.

          In their second season, both contributed more to the offense while still trying to get completely healthy and learn the offense. Overall, Curtis ended last season with 32 catches for 434 yards and two touchdowns. McDonald caught 37 passes for 494 yards and three touchdowns.

          Both players came on strong at the end of last season for the Rams.

          In the wild 33-27 comeback victory in overtime at Seattle, Curtis caught a 41-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Rams within 27-24. In the NFC Wild Card victory over Seattle, Curtis caught four passes for 107 yards. In the next playoff game, a loss at Atlanta, Curtis filled in for Bruce, who was injured. Curtis made the most of his chance and hauled in seven passes, good for 128 yards including a 57-yard touchdown reception.

          "I feel I like made progress especially towards the end of the year," Curtis said. "I was in the mix there. Now, I want to take it to the next level. I want to make plays for this team."

          McDonald also made some big catches down the stretch last season for St. Louis. He caught a 31-yard pass in the playoff game against Seattle that came just before tight end Cam Cleeland's 17-yard touchdown reception that was the game-winner.

          "I got in some big plays last year and I keep trying to prove that I belong out there," McDonald said.

          In this offseason, McDonald had surgery on his left knee as he had his meniscus scoped.

          "This is probably the healthiest I've felt in camp," McDonald said. "My knee is 100 per...
          -08-04-2005, 10:27 AM
        • Nick
          Curtis' catches keep Rams rolling - PD
          by Nick
          Curtis' catches keep Rams rolling
          By Bill Coats
          Of the Post-Dispatch
          Sunday, Jan. 02 2005

          Isaac Bruce has caught 777 passes in his NFL career. Fellow wide receiver Kevin
          Curtis has caught 36.

          Yet when Bruce hobbled to the sideline late in the third quarter Sunday with a
          bruised hip, Curtis jumped into the breach, and the Rams' attack kept perking
          along. Curtis played a key role in the Rams' 32-29 overtime victory over the
          New York Jets.

          Curtis, a second-year pro from Utah State, had four receptions in the fourth
          quarter, with three for 38 yards on the drive that put the Rams up 29-26 with 5
          minutes 6 seconds remaining. The Jets tied the score on a field goal with three
          seconds to go in regulation, but the Rams (8-8) prevailed on Jeff Wilkins'
          31-yard boot and grabbed a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

          "I saw a few more balls today," Curtis said. "All year, if Isaac goes down, I'm
          usually the guy that goes in there. You just never know. It's been a long
          season, and a lot of guys get hurt. So you've always got to be ready if your
          number's called."

          Overall, Curtis totaled a career-high 99 yards on six catches. He has 32
          receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns this year, after injuries scuttled
          most of his rookie season.

          "Kevin just needs opportunity; he's ready to play," coach Mike Martz said. "He
          can play at a very high level."

          The Rams trailed 26-21 when Bruce was hurt. Quarterback Marc Bulger hooked up
          with Curtis for gains of 9, 12 and 17 yards on an eight-play, 59-yard march
          that ended with a 19-yard TD strike to receiver Torry Holt. Running back Steven
          Jackson barreled in for the two-point conversion, giving the Rams a three-point
          cushion.

          The lead changed hands five times in the 3-hour 51-minute bout in front of
          65,877 at the Edward Jones Dome. "It was like a roller-coaster," Curtis said.
          "It kind of reminded me a little bit of last year's (playoff) game (a 29-23 OT
          loss to Carolina), so back and forth and having a chance here and there and
          then you think maybe you've run out of chances."

          When Jets kicker Doug Brien missed a 53-yard field-goal try in overtime, "we
          got another chance," Curtis said. "We kept plugging away, and it paid off."
          -01-02-2005, 10:23 PM
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