The Rams players and coaches voted Donnie Avery the team's rookie of the year earlier this month. It wasn't exactly a surprise, but DE Chris Long had a pretty strong season too and you can make the case that Long could just have easily earned that title. So, let's open it up to the fans. We watched these excruciating games week-in and week-out, we know these players, the good and the bad and the really, really uninspiring.
WR Donnie Avery
The case for: When the Rams drafted him with the second pick in the second round, making him the first WR taken, experts raised their eyebrows. After sitting out the first two games, the speedy Avery finished the season with 53 catches, 674 yards and 3 TDs (and a rushing TD). He had the thrid most yards of any rookie WR in league this season. Four of his receptions were for 40 or more yards, best among all rookies, delivering on expectations as a deep threat. Have we mentioned it's no easy task to succeed as a rookie WR in the NFL...in a complex offensive system...for a hapless offense?
- An expert toe-drag to catch the ball in-bounds on 4th and 9 and give the Rams a first down in the closing moments of their, ultimately futile, week 16 game against the 49ers.
- A 43-yard catch on 3rd and long that set up the game winning field goal against the Redskins.
- A 42-yard touchdown catch to put the Rams on the board on their first possession of the Dallas game in week 7.
DE Chris Long
The case for: The individual stats for Long aren't as eye-popping as they are for Avery, but finishing the season with 4 sacks and 40 tackles for a rookie in a brand new defensive scheme is nothing to ignore. His four sacks tie him with the Saints' Sedrick Ellis for the second most among all rookies. More than the numbers, you've got to love Long's motor. No matter how behind the Rams were, no matter how many losses they had, he played balls-to-the-wall, making fewer gap mistakes than many of the veterans he played with. And in between games, he sought ways to get better, which is more than you can say about too many of the players on this roster.
- A two-sack performance against the New England Patriots in week 8, a game the briefly resurgent Rams almost won.
- In a lopsided loss to the Cardinals in week 14, Chris Long was a one man wrecking crew, consistently getting through blockers and disrupting former Ram Kurt Warner.
Both players made mistakes throughout the season. Avery ran some bad routes; Long whiffed some assignments. It happens. They are after all human.
Who gets your vote?