St. Louis Rams Training Camp Profile: Austin Pettis
Last season got off to a rocky start for the former Boise State Bronco Austin Pettis with the St. Louis Rams. A carryover suspension took away his first two games of the season after being given a four-game ban for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy late in 2011. His return was very uneventful with zero catches on zero targets in Week 3, but Pettis found his stride soon thereafter.
There was never that “wow” game for Pettis in 2012 with his best performance coming in Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings on five catches for 55 yards, but he was consistent down the stretch for the team. Although he lacks that game-breaking element that teams tend to covet these days, Pettis still provides a valuable service as a reliable target for quarterback Sam Bradford over the middle.
The wide receiver position saw some serious change this offseason in St. Louis with both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson heading to the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins respectively in free agency. They take with them two of the top three receiving statistics on the team from a season ago which leaves Chris Givens as the primary target and Pettis as his sidekick.
Now obviously things aren’t that simple with second-year man Brian Quick also figuring into the puzzle and rookie Tavon Austin looking like a do-it-all player for the team in his first season. Still, reports are that Pettis has been consistently outperforming Quick in offseason training activities (OTAs) which suggests that he will have a big role in the offense this season. Bradford gained a real rapport with him down the stretch last year which also bodes well for him from a production standpoint.
Where Pettis lacks is in explosion as his career average per catch is just 8.7 yards. There is definitely a place for a player with reliable hands to go over the middle and pick up the tough yards to move the chains in any offense, however. He may not be the most valuable fantasy football performer, but Pettis certainly has worth to the Rams and their offense.
Without a suspension looming over him heading into 2013, the now third-year man is likely to see his best season yet this coming year. Look for Pettis to continue to be a reliable third down target for Bradford and an important piece to the offensive puzzle in St. Louis.