Balzer: Success In N.E. Seems Like Long Ago

When rookie quarterback Sam Bradford had his coming-out party in the third preseason game against New England, he hit big plays to wide receivers Donnie Avery and Brandon Gibson and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Bradford seemed to be developing a strong rapport with Hoomanawanui.

As the Rams prepare for this week's game against Washington after an 0-2 start, two of those players are on the shelf with injuries and the other — Gibson — has yet to be active for a game.

Avery was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury later in that game against the Patriots. Hoomanawanui suffered a high ankle sprain on his fourth play in the season opener against Arizona.

So, it was that after practice Wednesday, Gibson, along with rookie tight end Fendi Onobun and rookie wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Dominique Curry were getting some extra reps with Bradford. Rookie running back Keith Toston was also part of that group.

With tight ends Billy Bajema and Daniel Fells potentially out this week, Onobun might make his NFL debut. Gilyard is the most likely to see additional time. Curry played last week on special teams. Gibson could be active depending on the status of Laurent Robinson, who is battling a foot injury, and has just four receptions for 22 yards in the first two games.

He seems much different from the player that had 11 receptions for 141 yards in the first two games of the 2009 season before being lost for the season early in the third game after he had added two catches for 26 yards to that total.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo acknowledged on Gilyard that "We probably should have got him in there a little bit more on Sunday. Things kind of just dictated differently, but he'll get his reps this week."

Onobun, who played just one season of college football, said, "I've progressed immensely, but I still have a long way to go. I am preparing as if I'll be active this week. I believe it will happen."

On his tight ends, Bradford said, "We are banged up at tight end a little bit right now, so the tight ends that do play this game, we're going to have to make the most of every rep in practice, we're probably going to have to stay after and get a couple routes, but both guys who are going to go this week, they were here all training camp. We've had plenty of work with them, I've had plenty of work with them, so I feel good about whoever we have at tight end."

Bradford is confident the offense will be able to move the ball on the Redskins.

"They're a blitz team, they like to pressure," Bradford said. "We have to be ready for pressure to come from all different positions at any time. But I think if we are prepared for that and we're able to get ourselves protected I think there are some things we can take advantage of just in the way they play coverage down the field.

"The Texans were able to throw the ball very successfully against them. But we've got to be careful. Washington does some things that we haven't seen yet. They're able to do some interesting things on defense so we have to make sure that we're very prepared for anything that they could throw us, but I think watching the Texans tape, we have some good ideas about how to attack their defense now."

Howard Balzer is the Editor/writer for GridIronGateway Magazine. For subscription information visit (reduced online rate of $39.95) or call 888-501-5752. You can also follow him on Twitter at Recommended Stories

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