We talked Keenan Burton yesterday, looking at his impressive performance with the first team and the possibility of the Rams replacing a out-of-sync Drew Bennett with him if needed. It's hard not to be impressed with Donnie Avery's performance too. Avery, playing in his first preseason game, worked with the first team, second team and returned kicks. He finished the night with 5 receptions, tied with Looker for the most, and 65 yards, tops on the night. Not bad for a guy who's been at practice a little more than a week.
Like everything preseason, take it with some skepticism, but it looks like Avery can be a contributor this season. The Rams certainly need him to be. We've been fairly bullish on his prospects since the draft. He could be a threat out of the slot right away since he seems to get the playbook. So, I thought I'd do a little comparison with Avery.
Lee Evans, BUF - Evans had a nice rookie year, staring in 11 games and making 48 receptions for 843 yards and 9 TDs. The Bills had a solid #1 WR in Eric Moulds and a steady hand in Drew Bledsoe at QB. They also had a solid running game as McGahee broke out in his rookie year. A balanced team that didn't have to deal with too many significant injuries.
Kevin Curtis, STL - Most of us are pretty familiar with Curtis' work. He played in just 4 games his rookie season, 2003, and was down on the depth chart. The next year he played in 15, catching 32 passes for 421 yards and 2 TDs. As you know, Curtis was kind of buried here behind Holt and Bruce.
Earlier in the summer, after reading a piece on Greg Jennings and Santino Holmes breakthroughs working out of the slot, I compared Avery to those two guys, who had nice rookie seasons and blossomed in their second year. Both of those players debuted on a team with similar circumstances to a healthy 2008 Rams team.
Anyway, taken all together, I think there's enough precedent to think that Donnie Avery could have a solid rookie season in St. Louis. I suspect he'll get some playing time Thursday night against the Chiefs which ought to give us a little more of a feel for how well he's grasping the playbook.
If Burton and Avery can prove their worth as rookies, it'll put a lot of minds to rest about the Rams depth at WR, to say nothing of making Bennett and his big contract expendable next season.