One of the things I always look forward to in training camp is the position battles. This year in Rams camp, no battle will be more interesting than the one for the 5 or 6 receiver spots the team will have available. It is fair to say that the battle should be wide open, given the teams past struggles in this area; however, I would argue that some players may already be on the out looking in.
There are 3 wide receivers on the Rams roster that are almost guaranteed a spot on the team this year — Danny Amendola, Brian Quick, and Chris Givens. The rookies are almost fully-assured an opportunity based on their draft status, barring some sort of bizarre turn of events. Amendola is the only proven commodity among that group, and that means the next 2 or 3 spots are extremely vital, because The Rams need guys that can contribute. I would make a case that Greg Salas and Steve Smith have both proven in different ways that they can be contributors. Salas has already shown abilities in OTA’s that we saw in flashes of during last season. Smith was a dominant receiver for one year in this league prior to a major injury. All reports say he is healthy again, and looks ready to go. If this information is true, he can also be a guy you could count on. I believe Salas and Smith will be given inside tracks at the other two positions, leaving the possibility of only one extra spot (that’s assuming 6 spots are indeed available).
The sixth receiver spot can only be available if that sixth reciever can make a difference for the team. He cannot be a guy that’s there just for depth, he has to prove that he is contributor otherwise that spot might as well go to an additional cornerback or linebacker. The guys battling for this last spot are Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis, Danario Alexander, and some undrafted rookies. Of this group Alexander appears to be the most talented. Unfortunately he has proven to be reliably unreliable. I actually feel bad for the guy, because if he wasn’t riddled with leg injuries he could possibly be a top NFL receiver. But in this case it’s business and I fear that Alexanders problems will only get worse, not better. I believe it makes him a long shot for the sixth spot. Gibson is the opposite of Alexander. He probably is the least talented of the three, but has proven he can handle the rigors of a full NFL season. The bad news for Gibson is that this regime isn’t going to give points for showing up, and for this reason he is also a long shot for the sixth spot. Finally, that leaves Pettis who appears to have some NFL ability that will need to be developed and pulled out of him. If he progresses during training camp he can be a legitimate candidate for the sixth spot.
This battle might appear to be an all out war between the wide receiver core members, but as you can see by this breakdown, this battle may be more of a scuffle. The sixth spot is no guarantee and the three gentlemen listed above will have to fight tooth and nail just prove that a sixth receiver is even needed. Beyond that, if none of them can prove they are worthy for the spot, it’s possible the team could hit the waiver wire for a replacement. So now it’s time to sit back and watch the sparks fly.