Gibson, Gilyard Ready to Contribute

Posted Sep 23, 2010

By the time Mardy Gilyard’s college career at Cincinnati was complete, he was so comfortable in the offense that his dynamic performance on the field appeared almost effortless.

But a late start to his NFL career caused by his school’s late graduation date left Gilyard behind the learning curve.

This week, though, Gilyard is close enough to being up to speed that he figures to get his first chance to figure into more than just special teams and have an expanded role in the offense.

“He’s showing it,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “We probably should have got him in there a little bit more on Sunday.  Things kind of just dictated differently, but he’ll get his reps this week.”

In search of a spark in the passing game and in part because of an injury to starter Laurent Robinson, it appears that Gilyard and Brandon Gibson will get their first opportunities to contribute in the passing game in this young season.

For Gilyard, the learning curve has only been sharpened by the amount of work the Rams have put on his plate.

In addition to his duties working as a slot receiver, Gilyard has also been working on the outside, getting the work as the team’s kick returner and working as a gunner on coverage units.

With all of that to learn, Gilyard has taken some time to grasp it all but he says he’s been patient to ensure that he will be ready when his time comes.

“It’s coming a lot easier now,” Gilyard said. “In the beginning as a rookie you want to be able to come in and do everything and do it right all the time because you are so used to doing it right all the time in college. But coming in now and just having everything thrown at me, I took it as a positive. I took it as the coaches didn’t want to put anything on me that they didn’t think I could withstand on my end.”

Gibson, meanwhile, has gone through a bit of a different process to get back on the field. After coming to the Rams via trade last year, he played in 10 games with four starts, posting 34 catches for 348 yards and a touchdown.

Coming into the preseason, Gibson figured prominently in the plans but was slowed by a hamstring injury. That ailment slowed him again when he aggravated it in training camp.

“Injuries set back anybody,” Gibson said. “You aren’t going to come back 100 percent. You just have to work yourself into it. My big thing is basically just trying not to pull my hamstring again because I didn’t want to have a setback again and miss another two weeks, three weeks. I try to prepare my body and come back healthy and try to make plays.”

Gibson returned in time for the final preseason games and made an impact in catching a touchdown in each of the final two contests.

Still, Gibson’s absence cost him time and because he didn’t bring as much special teams experience as the rest of the wideouts, he was a pregame inactive against Arizona and Oakland.

“The fact that I wasn’t playing, it was frustrating because last year I was starting but I am here to do whatever the team needs,” Gibson said. “If I am not up one week and I am up the next week, I’ll deal with it. It’s part of the business.”

Assuming Gibson and Gilyard get their opportunities to contribute in the passing game this week; both know they need to be on point in their preparation to ensure that they are on the same page with an offense that has been working without them for the first couple of weeks of the season.

“When those 11 guys are out there, those 11 guys have got to be on the same page,” Gilyard said. “Those 11 guys have to be the guys that know exactly what is going on, know their sight adjustments, know who they are blocking, know their routes, know the timing, know the quarterback’s drop. They have to know these things.”

RYAN, DAHL STILL WAITING: Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan and safety Craig Dahl were held out of practice again Thursday as they await clearance on their respective head injuries.

Ryan visited with a specialist on Thursday to try to get final word on his migraine headache issues. While all sides remained optimistic that he would be cleared, that still has yet to happen.

“He does feel good but migraines, we just want to be sure,” Spagnuolo said. “This is really, more than anything, for Cliff, for the player.”

Dahl had been progressing well earlier in the week as he goes through the required battery of tests to get cleared from his concussion.
On Wednesday, Dahl took the exertion test and though he did OK, the consensus from the Rams training staff was that it wasn’t quite enough to pass.

“When he was exerted yesterday, (head athletic trainer) Reggie (Scott) thought he showed some symptoms,” Spagnuolo said. “So he was shut down today and he’ll do the same thing again tomorrow and then we’ll see where we’re at.”

By rule, Dahl must wait a full day before he can take another exertion test so he will do it again on Friday. Should he pass then, he’d then meet with an independent doctor on Saturday before he could be cleared.

ANOTHER FAMILIAR FACE: The Rams know what they’ll be facing when they see the Redskins on Sunday in a number of places but one name coming back to St. Louis who might not draw as much attention is defensive end Adam Carriker.

The former first-round pick of the Rams is playing and starting as the left defensive end in Washington’s 3-4 defensive scheme. In two games, Carriker has posted two tackles with a half of a sack.

Of course, in that defensive scheme, his job is to take on blockers and allow the linebackers to run sideline to sideline to make tackles.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is pleased with Carriker’s performance so far.

“You know what a quality guy he is,” Shanahan said. “He’s a quality person.  He fits into our scheme perfectly.  It was a great addition for us.”

INJURY REPORT: While Ryan and Dahl sat out Thursday’s practice, the Rams did get some encouraging news on a couple of other players.

Cornerback Kevin Dockery and tight end Daniel Fells worked back into the mix Thursday; leaving some hope that one or both could be active and ready to play against the Redskins.

Both players were limited but are expected to go again in the week’s final practice on Friday.

Robinson did not practice again Thursday and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and running back Steven Jackson were limited. Atogwe and Jackson are expected to be ready to play against Washington.

RAM BITS: The Rams have asked for an extension to meet the sellout requirements for Sunday’s game. By tomorrow, it will be determined if the game will be televised locally…Because of the many injuries the Rams have, Spagnuolo said they have had to make some plans and adjust practice because so many players are playing in the regular offense and defense and also on special teams…If Dahl can’t play, the Rams’ emergency fourth safety would be cornerback Marquis Johnson, according to defensive coordinator Ken Flajole.