Rams fans familiar with our offensive woes since the days of Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Ricky Proehl are quick to cite a lack of "separation" from our receivers -- in other words, an inability to get open. Now the term is being thrown around to indicate the lack of an immediate primary threat emerging from the group we've got. Is this a problem, or a nice problem to have?
Ron Clements, CBS Sports' beat reporter covering the Rams training camp, has been on the field every day and is accumulating tons of camp wisdom, nugget by nugget. After yesterday's practice, which saw Donnie Avery and Greg Salas still on the sidelines, Clements caught this comment from coach Spagnuolo:
Aside from Danny Amendola, coach Steve Spagnuolo said there hasn’t been much separation in the competition at WR.
“With guys being banged up, I don’t know if there’s anybody that has clear-cut sailed over anybody else,” Spagnuolo said. “But I think the whole group is getting better.”
The glass half-full and half-empty crowds can each draw something from this statement. Those that think that Bradford was too dependent on Amendola and the underneath route last year will grouse, and wonder why the quixotic Mike Sims-Walker hasn't immediately established himself as a primary threat. And as Turf Show Times reports, at least one pundit thinks Sims-Walker may not even crack the starting lineup.
But those that look at the sudden influx of depth among our receiving corps will say that the talent level as a whole has risen, and so a lack of separation means fewer are falling behind. Indeed, there's something to be said about the level of competition in camp when Dominic Curry is back on the practice field despite a fractured hand. (Of course, with the level of depth at the position, Curry has to make a big impression just to get onto the bubble to make the team's final six.)
Austin Pettis was one reciever taking big steps forward, commanding a nice share of first-team reps, but he had a not-so-good day at the team's high-profile scrimmage at Lindenwood.
And he apparently knows it:
Rookie WR Austin Pettis gave himself a D grade from Sunday’s scrimmage. “I had a couple plays where I had some mental errors,” Pettis said. “Fortunately it was just a scrimmage.” WR Mike Sims-Walker also gave himself a D, but Pettis said, “I think he played better than me.”
Of course, Spagnuolo is known to foster competition among his players, and his studied lack of endorsement for any of the non-Amendolas on the roster could be seen as a challenge to players like Pettis, Sims-Walker, Avery, Salas and bubble players like Gilyard and Danario to keep stepping up their game.
He also laid out exactly how the Rams will be judging their efforts: