Patience is Paying Off for Stedman Bailey

Posted Dec 6, 2013

As a third-round draft pick who was one of the most productive collegiate players at his position in 2012, Stedman Bailey’s talent on the field is clear to see. In his rookie season in St. Louis, however, the patience he’s shown as he’s witnessed his role gradually expand has been perhaps his best attribute.

Bailey, who caught 114 passes in his senior season at West Virginia, did not make an NFL reception until Week 9 against Tennessee. Since, his presence within the Rams’ offensive scheme has continued to grow, including three receptions for 49 yards at San Francisco last week. The physical tools that had previously been seen only on special teams have become increasingly prominent offensively.

“It’s slowly but surely all been coming together for me,” Bailey said. “Each week, for about four weeks now, my snaps have increased and it’s a great feeling for me, each and every day trying to make the most of my opportunities.”

To Bailey’s credit, the slow, steady climb up the depth chart has not been unexpected, and he has leaned on the guidance of the Rams’ more veteran receivers to speed his learning curve.

“I feel like the biggest thing with me was learning the playbook, and over time, having help from guys like Austin Pettis and Chris Givens, just making sure I know what I’m doing. Now that I’m past that, I can think and play fast at the same time.”

Perhaps no one is more attuned to Bailey’s potential than fellow rookie Tavon Austin, Bailey’s teammate at West Virginia. Austin, who has seen his career path take a much more immediate rise, believes Bailey’s prominence within the Rams’ offensive system is also on the horizon.

“I just see ‘Sted’ taking advantages of opportunities right now, and not just on special teams anymore,” Austin said. “I played with him for four years, so I definitely know what he can do. It’s about being put in the right situation at the right time.”

To hear Bailey’s teammates tell it, the rookie wideout’s current rise is due in large part to his attention to detail in all areas of his game, and his relatively unconcerned outlook toward sparse offensive reps with the first team at the season’s outset. Bailey has proven a valuable contributor in each role he’s been placed in, including kickoff and punt coverage, as his six special teams tackles are tied for the team’s second-highest total.

QB Kellen Clemens, who has relied on a multitude of offensive weapons within the passing game since taking over as the team’s starter in Week 8, stands to represent one of the chief benefactors of Bailey’s rise. The pair worked together often early in the year on the Rams’ scout team, and the familiarity has been evident in recent weeks.

“He’s growing with every week,” Clemens said at his Wednesday press conference. “He wasn’t getting a lot of work in early in the season and then we started giving some opportunities to start making the most of it. His workload has increased each week and it’s a testament to how he’s worked, how he’s prepared, how he’s studied and he’s a good football player. He’s going to play in this league for a long time.”