Rams' Stedman Bailey recovers after shooting, hopes to play again

OXNARD, Calif. -- Stedman Bailey is making a steady recovery after being shot last year, and he still hopes to be medically cleared to play football again.

Until then, the receiver is focusing his energy on helping the Los Angeles Rams from the sidelines.

Bailey expressed optimism Friday about his football future, whether back in uniform or as a coach.

"I definitely feel like I have a chance to step back on the field and be able to continue playing football," Bailey said at the conclusion of the Rams' second week of voluntary offseason practices.

Bailey was shot twice in the head while sitting in a car with family in November back home in Miami. The Rams have supported the three-year pro throughout his recovery, and they placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list this week so he can continue to be around the team this season.

"It's been pretty tough, but I'm still here," Bailey said. "Still could be a whole lot worse for me. I could not be standing here right now. I'm feeling good. I've got my health. I've got my family. My mind is good. Physically, I feel great. I'm just taking it for what it is. Every day I feel better."

The 25-year-old former West Virginia receiver has been working with the Rams' assistant coaches in charge of receivers and special teams during the offseason, encouraging his teammates and learning the finer points of game preparation from the other side of the playbook. Bailey also is a vocal, encouraging presence on the field during practices in their temporary offseason home before the Rams' homecoming season in Los Angeles.

Bailey said his recovery is proceeding swiftly, according to his doctors, who warned him that it might be a full year before he feels normal again. He already feels fine while running with his teammates and occasionally catching passes after practice.

Bailey also sees the grim coincidence in a football player receiving a serious head injury off the field.

"I've always been a guy to kind of be able to avoid hits," Bailey said. "But I know sometimes things happen, and it's not really in my best interest to be taking some hard hits right now. I've still got to let my skull and let my brain heal up a little bit."

The Rams have no timetable for Bailey to play again, coach Jeff Fisher said. Bailey played in 38 games over the past three seasons, catching 59 passes for 843 yards and two touchdowns while also contributing on special teams.

With the excitement of a new season in a new home building weekly for the Rams, Bailey said his optimism hasn't been dimmed by his brush with death.

"I'm able to wake up every day and smile," Bailey said. "Like Coach (Fisher) said, I'm very lucky to still be alive. I went through a whole lot. Just the fact that I'm not able to be out here and actually be playing football right now has been the toughest part, but I've got so many things to be grateful about that I'm able to overlook those things and just smile, because I'm still here."