The two most important wide receivers for the St. Louis Rams this season might be Danny Amendola and Steve Smith. Amendola's place in the offense is fairly obvious. Smith is in St. Louis on a one-year rebound deal, his chance to prove to the NFL that he has overcome the microfracture surgery on his knee that derailed a promising start to his career in New York. So far, Smith looks to be back at full speed, and that could be a very important development for the Rams.
Jeff Fisher said that Smith has experience no limitations on the field this year.
"He's doing maintenance, like most people who have had prior injury history with the knees," Fisher said. "But he's stayed out of the training room and that's a good sign for him."
Smith has three catches for 24 yards in two preseason games, showing no signs of a lingering knee issue. Sam Bradford has gone to him a few times on deep routes, but the two did not connect for various reasons. Last week, on the third series of the game, Bradford hit him out of bounds, throwing away the ball as he was chased out of the pocket. Smith ran a fine route, but the catch did not count for obvious reasons. Smith's routes have looked fine, and he has a real savvy for working in tight coverage.
The USC product also has good hands. From 2008 through 2010, he never caught less than 66 percent of the passes thrown his way. He caught just 55 percent last season, on just 20 targets, as injuries weighed him down.
Smith, a second-round pick in 2007, is the most experienced receiver on the Rams roster. That counts for something as the Rams look to get Bradford synced up again in the passing game.
"He understands the offense,' Fisher said. :He's a veteran receiver. He understands defenses and concepts. There's a lot ahead of him this year. We expect him to stay healthy.
"When he was healthy in New York he went to the Pro Bowl," Fisher reminded the media. "It's a matter of us creating opportunities for him to get open."
Smith possesses the versatility to play in the slot and outside, something Scottenheimer prizes in his receivers. Through the preseason both Smith and Amendola have worked inside and out to give the offense some different looks and create those opportunities Fisher mentioned.
The Rams still have two preseason games left to play, which will go a long way toward deciding how the final roster looks. Smith and Amendola are virtually guaranteed roster spots, and both will likely be the starting receivers.