If it’s one player who has impressed the coaches during this year’s OTA’s it’s Austin Pettis. Not very often does a third year wide receiver become the veteran guy and is the oldest wide receiver in the locker room. That is the case however with Austin Pettis on the Rams young squad. It has been up to Pettis to take the lead in the meeting rooms and lead by example on the field, and he is doing just that.
When asked about Pettis, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, “He does a great job of coaching these young guys and he’s a professional,” Schottenheimer said. “And quite honestly, he’s probably having the best camp of all the skill players. He’s a tireless worker, very competitive, can play all the spots which helps and he’s having a tremendous spring.” Pettis came into camp as sort of the forgotten guy who would be lucky to get any playing time with guys like Chris Givens who looks to have a breakout sophomore year, Brian Quick who is expected to show more of his potential this year, and the rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. If Pettis continues his great play into the preseason, He may just get an expanded role in the offense.
Last season Pettis had 30 receptions for 267 yards and led the team with 4 touchdowns. Pettis seemed to work himself into the game more and more toward the end of last season making big catches in big moments. Pettis could very well be the reason why the Rams tied against the 49ers and then later on, beat the Buffalo Bills. Pettis caught a key touchdown at San Francisco in November which gave the Rams a late lead and then came up with a huge fourth-down conversion on a ball thrown behind him to set up the game-winning score against Buffalo on Dec. 9. Not to mention Pettis also had a career high 55 yards receiving against the Minnesota Vikings.
Pettis and Sam also share a connection and chemistry that none of the other receivers have with Sam. Bradford and Pettis have been in St. Louis since day one together and have been through everything. While the other receivers are still learning and developing, Pettis knows what Sam wants on certain plays an visa versa. Having that connection between quarterback and receiver is very important and it’s what made duos like Manning and Harrison, Unitas and Berry, and even Ryan and White so great. They no what to expect from each other. That’s not saying that Pettis and Bradford are Manning and Harrison by any means. Pettis just has that connection with Bradford and has that advantage over the other guys.
It looks as if Pettis in his third year is finally ready to take the next step and be a major part of the Rams offense. People forget that not only is this Sam Bradford’s second year in the same system, but Austin Pettis’ as well. This offense is ready to take huge steps this season and it looks like they will have more weapons than the defense will be able to account for. Now it’s time to see how to incorporate all the weapons in the offense and make it work, and if Pettis continues to show his skills, he may just be one of many Rams players set for a career year.