As the St. Louis Rams prepare to enter their third training camp under coach Jeff Fisher, much will hinge on the ability of the team's many young players to turn potential into production. In this final week before camp officially begins, we take a look at some players who must take the next step either to preserve their jobs, help the team reach its first winning record since 2003 or, to the team's preference, both.
We begin this week-long series with wide receiver Brian Quick.
What he's done: The Rams spent the first pick of the second round in the 2012 NFL draft on the raw but talented wideout from Appalachian State. Quick has tantalized on the practice field with his combination of size and speed but has been unable to consistently turn that into production. In two seasons, Quick has appeared in 31 games with 29 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns. Rams quarterbacks have targeted Quick 61 times in those games. To his credit, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver has become a solid blocker in the run game but that has probably been his greatest contribution thus far.
Why he must do more: There was little doubt that Quick would take some time to develop upon arriving in St. Louis. He was far from a polished product when he got to St. Louis after playing at a small school with little experience running the NFL route tree or playing in a pro-style offense. But the Rams spent a valuable pick on Quick with other, more accomplished receivers on the board and did so despite the need for more production at the position. They did it based largely on an impressive private workout in the pre-draft process. They've been patient with Quick, hoping that he would break out further into his career much like Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson, who profiled similar to Quick when he came into the league. It's now Quick's third season and the time for talking about his development is about over. The Rams need production from their receiver group, regardless of who it is. Given his draft position and potential, Quick making the leap forward would be a welcome sight.
Where he fits: Quick is one of about six receivers on the roster who figure to make the 53-man roster, but this training camp should offer a fairly open competition for how those wideouts fit on the depth chart. Chris Givens and Tavon Austin seem poised for large roles in the offense but there is still plenty of room for Quick to step in and stake his claim to an expanded role. It's folly to expect Quick's step forward to result in a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season or something close to that but if he could exceed his combined career numbers in the 2014 season and still provide solid run blocking on the edge, he'd at least become a valuable contributor with solid footing for the future. If Quick is unable to do much more than he has in his first two seasons, it's fair to wonder where he fits long term.