We are just over a week away from the St. Louis Rams’ first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. With a healthy knee and a receiving core that’s now a year older, Sam hopes to, offensively, connect with a few of his receivers for the upcoming season. But who are the top receivers to pay attention to this year?
5) Chris Givens: The six-foot wide receiver is entering his third year with the Rams offensive for the 2014 campaign. 2013 was a disappointing year for Givens compared to his rookie season with the Rams. Yes, he didn’t have Bradford for a full season, but he also didn’t find the end zone once for the 2013 season. Givens’ targets increased by two from 2012-2013, but his receptions decreased by eight as well as scoring three touchdowns in 2012 and scoring nothing in 2013. Givens remains one of the top targets for Bradford this season. He has put on muscle in the off-season and remains one of the fastest on the team. Don’t be surprised if you see Coach Fisher utilize Givens this season as a deep threat for Bradford.
4) Jared Cook: Now he may not be categorized as a “receiver” but Cook was signed for one reason last year, to be a reliable piece of the offense. Going into his sixth year in the NFL and his second with the Rams, Cook had a disappointing year in 2013. He did increase his yard average on the season with 13.2 per catch. He had five touchdowns last year, which is a season high for Jared. He struggled with big catches when the team needed it as well as having playing time given to Lance Kendricks. If Cook can stay consistent like he has been in training camp, it will be difficult for Bradford not to have a successful season connecting with the 6’5, 250-pound tight end.
3) Brian Quick: Now here is someone who the Rams, as well as Rams fans are hoping can produce big time this year. Another receiver going into his third season who has put on muscle, gained speed and been one of the more “show-stopping” play-makers in training camp. Quick hasn’t seen much playing time in his first two years on the team, only being targeted 64 times in two seasons. Quick, like many other receivers on the team, struggled to make the “big catch” when the team needed it. With only four touchdowns in his career, St. Louis is hoping the 33rd overall draft pick can become a big piece of the puzzle this season. Spending plenty of time with Bradford and Coach Schottenheimer, Quick expects to be very productive in 2014.
2) Tavon Austin: Fans only got to see 13 games of him, but many are expecting Tavon Austin to live up to his “highlight reel” success last season. There’s no question that the 8th overall pick with his speed, agility and smooth hands will be able to find the end zone, whether it’s on offense or special teams. Austin scored four touchdowns in his rookie season, two of them in the 38-8 victory over the Colts. Playing time will be the biggest question mark for Austin; he saw a limited role last season. Austin has been lining up as different roles during training camp and has been a go-to for Sam Bradford in practices. With the size the Rams hold with Quick, Britt and Cook, Austin can prove to be a large threat for the Rams offense.
1) Kenny Britt: The number one target for Sam Bradford in the 2014 season, Kenny Britt. The “newbie” on the Rams roster spent five season with the Tennessee Titans and had a very strong first couple seasons. In 2010, Britt found the end zone nine times and was a huge asset for Jeff Fisher’s offense. He averages about 15 yards per catch and is as reliable as can be with his hands. One thing the Rams have been searching for is an enthusiastic, deep threat for Bradford to connect with on offense through the air. Britt was injured in 2011 and hasn’t been the same since, but the Rams have shown confidence in Britt’s talents and know what he can provide when healthy. Britt has been one of the more explosive weapons on offense during training camp, showing his talent in connecting with Bradford down field. He also brings a energy to the team with his receiving core that proves to have others feeding off of it on offense.
There’s no doubt the offense has plenty to prove for the 2014 season. But with the additions Les Snead made during the offseason in Britt and the growth of their younger receivers, Bradford looks to have a productive season through the air.