Michael Hoomanawanui is expected back soon for the St. Louis Rams. Can he help fill in for Mark Clayton?
The St. Louis Rams will not be getting back in the mix for Vincent Jackson. Instead, they'll turn to receivers already on the roster and even one on the practice squad to pick up the slack in Mark Clayton's absence. Still, that doesn't mean GM Billy Devaney won't give the trade market due diligence; there's just not much out there to trade for that tops what the Rams already have on the roster.
With no trade on the horizon, the Rams will need players on the roster to step up. Who is likely to take on the heavy load?
Former MIzzou standout Danario Alexander will be signed to the active roster today as Clayton gets moved to IR. IT's unlikely Alexander will contribute much in the weeks ahead or at all this season. He's recovering from knee surgery, rebuilding strength in his legs, and last saw contact in 2009 with the Tigers.
Mardy Gilyard and Brandon Gibson have a real opportunity to establish themselves now, and I think those two guys will see more action initially than Laurent Robinson, still dealing with an injury and maybe permanently slowed after last season's injury. Gilyard was targeted 6 times against Detroit, catching two passes for 22 yards. Gibson had the same number of targets and catches as the rookie last week, for a total of 34 yards and one sweet spin move that couldn't erase the memories of some ugly dropped balls.
Gilyard, the Rams fourth round pick this year, has been working at flanker and, according to the PD, feels as though he has a good grasp of the offense. The Cincinnati product will need to hone his route running and developing the kind of timing that Clayton had with Sam Bradford to be successful. Gibson just needs to work on his hands.
Most in need of another viable option at receiver is Danny Amendola, who has been a nice fit in the slot for the Rams, but can't reasonably expect to be leaned on like he was last week, targeted 19 times.
Rookie TE Michael Hoomanawanui could be back this week, and that should be good news for the Rams. Through the preseason and early in the regular season, Bradford has looked to his tight ends, targeting them a total of 11 times in week 1, when they were all healthy.
Illinois Mike caught 7 of 11 passes thrown his way in the preseason and 1 of 1 in the season opener before he was lost to an ankle sprain. More than anything, Hoomanawanui can help the Rams in red zone, where they're struggling to make things happen. Bajema's return helps too.
I don't know that any one of these players can fill the void left by Clayton, but collectively they can step up and provide enough of an offense to carry the Rams forward through the season.
There's also that Steven Jackson guy who can help a team.