Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Almost no analysis of the Rams would be complete without a couple cheap shots -- or at least strongly worded critiques -- regarding their receivers.
Donnie Avery is having none of it. The Rams' second-year receiver offered the following scouting report over the phone following practice Wednesday (I asked him about five other receivers on the roster):
On Keenan Burton: "Great guy. Big, physical receiver. Fast. He got hurt a couple of games last season and was out for a while. He didn't catch as many balls as he wanted or as many as we wanted, but he still came in and made an impact when we needed him. He is a great possession receiver and fast. All the receivers we have can come in and make an impact as a deep threat."
On Tim Carter: "Extremely fast. If you blink your eye, you won't know where he went. He's a slot guy. Really a deep threat."
On Ronald Curry: "Big, physical receiver. Can easily take on any blocks, any safety. Great route runner."
On Brooks Foster: "Good route runner. Still has a lot to learn, but he will make an impact."
Avery isn't hurting for confidence. Asked which NFC West cornerback gave him the most trouble last season, Avery wouldn't name one. "I don't want to give a single guy any credit," he said. "I don't want to make him feel special. If he did, it was probably luck."
A bit cocky? "Every wide receiver has to have confidence," Avery said, "or you are not going to get far."
Avery caught 53 passes for 674 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie last season. The highlight, in my view, was the clutch deep pass he caught to help beat the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Thanks to those who responded to my recent Facebook request for questions to ask Avery. I used several of them. Here is the transcript:
Mike Sando: How is this camp different from your rookie camp?
Donnie Avery: I'm more refreshed. No combine, no all-star games. You are a lot more fresh. I already know how things are going.
Mike Sando: Sounds like camp is more physical this year.
Donnie Avery: Oh yeah. I can say it's a lot more physical with a defensive head coach. More hitting. But at the same time, it's a lot more exciting. We use a lot of scenarios -- ball distance, third down, gotta make the first down.
Mike Sando: What is involved in adjusting to this system?
Donnie Avery: I would say it's a West Coast system. Just knowing the concepts and knowing all the positions. It's a lot easier than last year. Last year, you had to know all the shifts and motions. This year, it's really just lining up and playing fast.
Mike Sando: What did you do this offseason to make yourself better?
Donnie Avery: Worked on my speed, worked on my routes, reading coverages, just reading cornerbacks and what they read on receivers.
Mike Sando: Do you have a good rapport with Marc Bulger at this point?
Donnie Avery: Yes. We go over the plays and he expects a certain depth on the routes. We are at that stage where he is thinking what I'm thinking. We click.
Mike Sando: How is Bulger doing?
Donnie Avery: He's looking a lot better than last year. He is throwing the ball good, understanding the new offense. He's excited and he's the leader out there.
Mike Sando: One thing you hear about the Rams is that they have no receivers. What do you think when you hear that?
Donnie Avery: We don't have those all-star receivers, but we do have great receivers. We have a couple vets and then me and Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley. We don't have that great exposure as other receivers but we do have good receivers.
Mike Sando: There's a lot of talk about becoming a run-oriented team. What does that mean for you?
Donnie Avery: It means that's going to open it up and complement the pass. More defenders in the box with the running back. That will open it up on the outside.
Mike Sando: You guys went 2-14 last season, which probably didn't help your exposure.
Donnie Avery: I feel like I'm still a secret, coming in and still building from last year. There is going to be more excitement, more yards and a lot more fun for the fans.