There was a time, not long ago, when Danny Amendola spent the majority of his NFL practices on the sidelines, longing for repetitions.
So Amendola couldn’t help but crack a smile on Wednesday when he was asked whether the Rams had to be careful not to give him too give him too much of a workload.
“Yeah, it used to be the days where I couldn’t get any workload so now I am trying to do as much as I can to help this team do anything it can to win,” Amendola said.
While Amendola found the question funny, it was certainly a legitimate one considering just how much the Rams ask of him in his role as one of the team’s top three receivers, punt returner and occasional kick returner.
Amendola spent the majority of the preseason and training camp working as the team’s slot receiver, coming in regularly when the Rams go to three and four receiver sets. When Donnie Avery was lost for the season to a torn ACL, Amendola moved to the outside and spent the final couple of weeks of the preseason working on the outside.
In addition, Amendola came in as the Rams’ most accomplished returner. He handled kicks and punts during the preseason, even returning a punt 93 yards for a touchdown in the exhibition opener against Minnesota.
Needless to say, when you have that much on your plate, taking care of your body has to become your top priority.
“You just have to take care of your body and hydrate,” Amendola said. “I had some cramps last game but I have to take care of my body, stretch, take care of my bumps and bruises and whatnot and hopefully get on the field as much as I can.”
When the Rams acquired veteran wideout Mark Clayton last week, Amendola was able to slide back inside.
In the regular season opener against Arizona, Amendola did most of his work out of the slot and found his greatest success in his brief NFL career. He finished the game with a career-high 67 yards on six catches and also handled punt returns.
In an effort to limit his workload a bit because of the number of times the Rams use multiple receiver sets, coach Steve Spagnuolo opted to use rookie Mardy Gilyard on kick returns. Spagnuolo said Wednesday that would likely continue as Amendola’s main role is as the slot receiver.
“Yeah, I get a lot of reps on the outside in practice, backing up Mark whenever he needs a break,” Amendola said. “Whenever I go in the slot, I feel like I’m more comfortable there but I am still comfortable outside.”
Six days from now, it will have been exactly one year since Amendola signed with the Rams from Philadelphia’s practice squad.
The hard work and effort he’s given since arriving in St. Louis has entrenched him as a valuable piece of the team moving forward and Amendola can’t help but think how far he’s come.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Amendola said. “I got my opportunity and I am trying to run with it and will continue to do so. I just do all I can to help this team win.”
RECEIVER READINESS: While the absence of two of their cornerbacks were glaringly obvious in the closing quarters of Sunday’s game, it went almost unnoticed that the Rams were running low on receivers as well.
Amendola cramped up in the third quarter and was in and out of the game while
One player who got some opportunities at the time was Gilyard, the rookie from Cincinnati who is still trying to play catch up after getting a late start because of NCAA graduation rules.
Spagnuolo said Wednesday that Gilyard is probably about ready to have an expanded role.
“He’s getting there,” Spagnuolo said. “I think he’s got a little bit of that now. We’re playing him at more than one position. We had limited him at one time, put him at the ‘Z’. Now he’s playing a little bit of ‘X’. And you have to do that in this league. He’s doing fairly well with it right now.”
With only four receivers active for last week’s game and Robinson still nursing the ankle injury, it’s possible that the team would keep an extra wideout active for this week’s game against Oakland.
The most likely candidate is Brandon Gibson, who was inactive last week.
“He did some of it today,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s got to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s got to be a factor on special teams. If you’re not going to be one of the starting wideouts, we’re going to ask you to play some special teams so he has to increase there. He actually had it pretty good today, caught a couple slants I thought were pretty nice. So he’s doing it.”
HEISMAN SHUFFLING: Saints running back Reggie Bush decided earlier this week to give back his Heisman Trophy based on his ineligibility at the time he received the award.
The Heisman family is a close group of players who have earned the award as college football’s top players.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford won the award in 2008 and says he really doesn’t have much of an opinion on the matter.
“To be honest, I don’t know enough about that situation and Reggie to comment on that,” Bradford said Wednesday. “But I do trust the Heisman Trust. Whatever decision they make I have full confidence in and will support any decision that they make.”
The Heisman Trust announced Thursday morning that no re-vote would occur and the 2005 award would remain vacant upon its return.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive tackle Darell Scott suffered a knee injury during the practice. He’s being evaluated today and the extent of the injury is not yet known.
Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan got ill on Wednesday night and checked into the hospital overnight. Ryan was going through some tests on Thursday afternoon to check the severity of the illness. Obviously, he also missed practice.
Running back Steven Jackson returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with inflammation in his knee.