Receiver Competition Begins Immediately at Rams OTAs

Posted Jun 5, 2014

The presence of new wideouts Kenny Britt and T.J. Moe has already enhanced the level of competition at OTAs.

With the opening of organized team activities underway, the Rams’ coaching staff has gotten an early look at competition among a position that team personnel has displayed a significant amount of confidence in throughout the offseason.

Aside from the free agent acquisition of Kenny Britt, the personnel at wide receiver has remained largely intact from the conclusion of the 2013 season, as the Rams elected against delving into either the free-agent market or the draft in search of another premier wideout. With the draft pickups of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey of a year ago, the Rams’ brass felt comfortable moving forward with the group in-house, given their steady development throughout the 2013 season.

The team’s decision to essentially stand pat has allowed the current receiver group to build valuable chemistry entering their second—and in some case, third—year together. Third-year receiver Chris Givens believes the extra year of familiarity has bred further competition among the position group, and in turn, could translate into a step forward in production.

“We’ve got some guys that are in their third year in the system, and you’ve got some other young guys with some great talent,” Givens said. “You put that together, we have a great nucleus here, and I’m just doing my best to lead these guys.”

While Givens looks to take on an enhanced role within the Rams’ offensive scheme in 2014, the position’s collective youth and inexperience allows for opportunity for those who may currently find themselves a few notches below on the depth chart.

With Bailey unavailable for the season’s first four games, an opportunity exists for Britt, as well as veteran Austin Pettis and others, to not only crack the Week 1 roster, but make an impact early on. Now healthy after an injury-plagued 2013, Britt has been reunited with Head Coach Jeff Fisher, who coached Britt during his two most productive NFL seasons, in 2009 and 2010. Also seeking a breakout year in his third NFL season is Brian Quick, who has shown flashes of brilliance, but still looks to deliver on the promise that came with his 33rd overall selection in 2012.

The success of the group’s members will undoubtedly be influenced by the performance of QB Sam Bradford, who was off to a career-best start to the 2013 season before suffering a torn ACL at Carolina in Week 7.

The Rams’ receiver group was undoubtedly affected by the loss of Bradford, who after an offseason of rehab and two days of participation in OTAs, appears all but certain to be available for the season opener against Minnesota. In Bradford’s seven starts in 2013, Rams receivers averaged 23 receptions for 244 yards per game. In nine starts by then-backup Kellen Clemens, those figures dropped to 16 and 184, respectively.

No receiver may figure to benefit from Bradford’s return more than Givens, who blossomed as a rookie with Bradford in 2012, finishing with 698 yards on 42 receptions while becoming Bradford’s favorite deep threat. His production dropped precipitously during the second half of last year, collecting just eight receptions over the Rams’ final eight games. Reunited with his quarterback for 2014, Givens is eager to prove 2013 was merely an outlier, as part of a receiving corps that seeks to become a known quantity.

“To be back around the guys and get some competing in, I’m just excited about what we’ll accomplish,” Givens said following Day 1 of OTAs. “We have a lot of talent here.”