Plenty of prognostications have been made regarding the St. Louis Rams’ newly drafted wide receivers, but few have mentioned their one offseason addition via free agency. Former member of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles Steve Smith might be the forgotten man when it comes to the Rams wideouts, but he could prove to be their most important newcomer during the 2012 season.
It’s been just two seasons since Smith was a Pro Bowl player and those last two years have been trying for the former USC Trojan. 2009 was a dream year for Smith with 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns. The following was more like a nightmare with a pectoral injury first placing him on the injury report and then an ACL issue forcing offseason microfracture surgery.
As a rule it takes at least one full year to recover from such a complex injury and Smith will now be in year two of his recovery. It’s now June and Smith is officially 100 percent healthy which certainly bodes well for the Rams offense’s attempted revival.
Where Smith was most valuable in his stint with the Giants was as Eli Manning’s checkdown man over the middle of the field. Running shallow crossing routes as a possession receiver is Smith’s bread and butter and Sam Bradford has been missing that element ever since he arrived in St. Louis.
This could be the year that Bradford finally delivers and Smith will be a big reason why. When asked about Bradford, Smith said: “He is so accurate. His accuracy is just amazing. He can really put a ball in the smallest of windows. The competition is up, we’re all flying around and I really like our schemes.”
If Smith’s intuitions are correct, the Rams will be looking at a much better year in 2012 than they had in 2011. His experience with Manning is his developmental years with the Giants will be beneficial as well during the growing process with Bradford now entering his third season. Smith is inarguably the most experienced member of the Rams’ receiving corps and his knowledge will be useful to the youngsters as this team looks to grow up during the coming year.