Gibson Continues to Grow

Posted Dec 16, 2010

It’s been a long road in a short period of time for Brandon Gibson to become one of quarterback Sam Bradford’s favorite targets.

The second-year wideout edged his way onto the roster this year after a strong preseason performance. Even then, he remained inactive for the first two weeks.

How times have changed.

Gibson has led the team in receiving since the team’s Oct. 31 win over Carolina, and his performance has not been lost on his coaching staff.

“My goodness, what a great improvement he’s made,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. “For a receiver like Brandon Gibson, I think it’s about consistency. He’s been targeted more but he’s been catching more balls. So I think that’s the key. We talk about making the routine plays routinely. He’s embraced that and has found a way to get that done.”

Though the routine plays have been typical for Gibson, the spectacular has not been out of the question, either. He has proven to be a versatile threat, making receptions underneath the coverage, while splitting time with rookie Danario Alexander as the Rams’ top downfield threat.

Success did not happen overnight for Gibson, who began last season with Philadelphia before being traded to the Rams.  His 44 receptions for 492 yards on the year have already surpassed last year’s performance.

After coming to St. Louis at midseason last year, Gibson caught 34 balls for 348 yards in nine games, including four starts. As encouraged as he may have been with that showing, he knew he had plenty to improve on before he would be a regular in the NFL.

“I just wanted to practice a lot better,” Gibson said. “Last year, I didn’t think I was a very good practice player, but I think I wanted to change my view on things and practice hard every day.”

Yet even that proved difficult near the beginning of this year, as his health betrayed him during the offseason.

The 23-year-old Gibson missed much of the team’s OTAs while nursing a hamstring injury. Once healthy, Gibson began to make an impact in the Rams’ preseason contests, nudging his way onto the 53-man roster. After an injury to veteran Mark Clayton, Gibson’s numbers began to spike.

For Gibson, the increased production is simply a matter of being given the opportunity to succeed.

“I think the injuries set me back,” Gibson said. “It wasn’t that I wasn’t playing well. It was that I was injured and didn’t have a chance to get on the field. I’m glad that I got healthy and showed everyone that I’m a good player and I’m able to do some things.”

‘Some things’ include an eight-catch, 72-yard performance at San Francisco and a 67-yard showing against New Orleans last week, his top two performances of the year. Gibson has continued to receive more attention in the Rams’ passing game, as he has proven to be a capable diversion from Danny Amendola, the team leader in receptions.

While it took nearly the first half of the season for an emphasis to be placed on Gibson in the offensive scheme, Gibson said it was only natural for it to take time for him to develop a rapport with Bradford.

“From jump, you’re not going to be on the same page with him,” Gibson said. “As time goes on, as weeks go on, you’re going to get on the same page, watching things and seeing things together.”

Now a consistent contributor, Gibson looks forward to continuing the production that has been two years in the making.

“I just think that the reads get pushed my way, and I’ve got to be open to make the plays,” Gibson said. “I’ve just got to continue to do my job and get open.”