<
>

Stedman Bailey still in stable condition as Austin, Britt don his jersey in tribute

Tavon Austin, left, would like to wear the No. 12 jersey of his good friend Stedman Bailey for the rest of the season. AP Photo/Billy Hurst

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With receiver Stedman Bailey in stable condition at an intensive care unit in south Florida, the St. Louis Rams are still thinking about him and coming up with ways to pay tribute.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Friday that Bailey's status remains the same after he was shot twice in the head on Tuesday night in Miami Gardens, Florida. Bailey made it through an extensive surgery on Wednesday and Fisher said he's expected to stay in the ICU for a few more days.

Bailey has remained on the minds of his teammates, including fellow receivers Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt, both of whom donned No. 12 jerseys in honor of Bailey for Friday's practice.

"That’s cool," Fisher said. "They love Sted. If we had enough jerseys to go around, everybody would have had a 12 jersey on, including me. We just don’t have enough to go around."

Fisher said that Rams head athletic trainer Reggie Scott visited Bailey at the hospital in the past couple of days and that the Rams' medical staff has been in touch with the attendant physicians handling Bailey's injuries. As for the circumstances surrounding Bailey's shooting, Fisher said he doesn't have any details about the on-going investigation.

"It’s a very, very unfortunate incident and what we are able to gather, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time," Fisher said. "We’re still waiting to get information but guys love Sted. Sted is a very popular player, great teammate, very, very talented player. It’s unfortunate we were a week away from him getting back in the building and getting ready to help us win."

Fisher said Wednesday that Bailey, who was still serving a four-game suspension for violation of the league's substance abuse policy, would be "highly unlikely" to return to the team this season.

But that hasn't prevented his fellow wide receivers from searching for ways to keep him around the team in spirit. While Austin and Britt wore Bailey's No. 12 in practice Friday, Austin is hoping to make it permanent for the rest of the season.

"That’s our brother," Austin said. "Hopefully coach Fisher will let me wear it in the games when I ask him, for the rest of the season. But he’s always going to be [with] us regardless, even if I can wear the jersey or not."

Austin is Bailey's closest friend on the team, having played college football with him at West Virginia. Austin found out about the shooting Tuesday night when former teammate Isaiah Pead called to talk about it. Austin said he had a mostly sleepless night Tuesday and was visibly emotional when discussing what happened to Bailey for the first time Friday.

Austin said he hasn't yet been able to get in contact with Bailey but has kept the faith that Bailey will be able to get back to full strength and eventually return to football.

"He’ll be all right," Austin said. "He’s going to be good. It’s rough just seeing it and believing it, that’s the hardest part. Knowing that’s the type of brother you have, I’ve spent seven years of my life with him.

"I definitely know his strength. He’s definitely going to pull through. The offseason, I’ll be back down there beside him, pushing with him and getting him back beside me and Kenny and all of us. Whatever it takes just to get him back."