Brandon Gibson is to the St. Louis Rams offense what honeydew is to a fruit salad – not often flashy, but usually a consistent and necessary contributor. The member of the group you don’t miss until it’s not there.
Gibson is regularly the forgotten man in the Rams offense from a fan and media perspective, but he’s proven to be one of QB Sam Bradford’s more reliable targets in recent weeks. In the absence of WR Danny Amendola, Gibson caught seven passes for 91 yards in Miami and had five catches for 60 yards. Both weeks he led the team in receptions.
“‘Gibby’ has just been extremely solid,” Bradford said after the Miami game. “He never messes up. He’s always in the right place. On Sunday he did a great job of getting open any time he was one-on-one. I think just (his) ability to get open and win has really impressed me the most.”
In many ways, Gibson is in line to have his best year as a pro. After making 53 catches for 620 yards and two touchdowns in the 2010 season, Gibson regressed last year, catching just 36 passes for 431 yards and just one touchdown. The presence of veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd and the offense’s general struggles under then-coordinator Josh McDaniels added to the disappointing year for Gibson.
But a new scheme and a new opportunity have Gibson looking up in 2012. After Amendola went down with a clavicle injury in the game against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 4, Gibson became Bradford’s go-to target. In total, the fourth-year receiver has 25 catches for 335 yards. He’s already tied his career high in touchdown catches with two in the first seven games.
“‘Gibby’ has really stepped up since (WR) Danny (Amendola) went down and I think he’s played exceptionally well the past couple weeks,” Bradford said. “I feel very comfortable with him.”
Where Gibson continues to struggle is with consistency. Gibson made an outstanding one-handed catch to keep the drive moving against the Dolphins that displayed his ability. Then last week he demonstrated his frustrating inconsistency, dropping a pass on fourth-and-two inside the Packers 10-yard line that would have given the Rams a new set of downs. He had a similarly maddening drop in the week three loss against the Chicago Bears.
He’s got the quarterback’s trust, but Gibson will need to continue to make more spectacular plays – as well as the routine ones – to be a regular contributor for the Rams going forward. It’s not sexy, but a good honeydew will always have a place in the fruit salad.