EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Isaac Bruce holds nearly every meaningful receiver record in Rams franchise history and during his 16-year career earned a reputation as one of the game’s savviest wideouts.
When the Rams hired Jeff Fisher as coach in January of 2012, Fisher made it clear that alumni would be welcomed to Rams Park with open arms. Bruce was right at the top of the list.
Considering the fact that the Rams don’t have a single wideout on the roster who has more than two full years of NFL game experience, any additional presence that can help receivers coach Ray Sherman is a welcome addition.
So Bruce has spent the better part of the past week observing, offering advice and generally serving as a resource for the young wideouts.
Bruce has been participating in many of the team activities since his arrival in St. Louis. He attends meetings, sits in on film sessions, works with players during practice and has even spent time getting in extra work with the young wideouts after those sessions are over.
“I think they wait on and listen to my opinion,” Bruce said. “I just tell the guys what I think and how I would run a route against this coverage or how I would attack the football versus that pass being thrown. They just sit on it and kind of wait for it. I sit in the back and I sneak up and then all eyes start looking at me.”
The Rams will keep five or six receivers on the final roster and Bruce offered me his thoughts on the five that are almost certain to make it.
“I’m pretty impressed,” Bruce said. “I think they’ve added some speed, some quickness, some separation, some guys who have a lot of room for growth but they are willing to make those steps to improve. I like the group as a whole.”
On Chris Givens: “To me, he’s not as herky jerky as he was last year,” Bruce said. “He’s made up his mind on who he wants to be as a football player. He’s a guy who can explode off the line of scrimmage. His transition from running the route to catching the football has gotten a whole lot better and his confidence is up.”
On Austin Pettis: “He is a starter right now,” Bruce said. “He’s not a guy who is just kind of glad to be here anymore. From what I see, I think he’s got the mentality of a No. 1 receiver and that’s big. If you are going to be a dominant guy in this league, I think that’s the right mentality to have.”
On Brian Quick: “That’s what we are working on right now is having him be more consistent,” Bruce said. “Like I said, for that guy we are just building an identity of just coming in every day and figuring out who he is and what type of football player he is and letting him know he can play at a high level and he belongs. I think that’s working out for him.”
On Tavon Austin: “The thing that blows me away is his willingness to learn,” Bruce said. “He’s pretty hungry as far as knowledge is concerned. From my background of playing this game, the more wisdom you have, I think the more success you’ll have, even over talent. Your talent starts to fade but the more you know, you can stay in this game a long time and have a lot of success.”
On Stedman Bailey: “The guy is from my hometown and he knows what it is to play competitively as far as football is concerned,” Bruce said. “I think the guy is going to make big plays. I keep telling him every day you are here for a reason. They drafted you for a reason so go ahead and tap into that potential and be all you can be.”
Bruce will attend one more practice Tuesday afternoon before departing Wednesday.