“But after that first play, once you get those pads popping one time, you know it’s just another football game,” Bayer said. “That’s the mindset I took into it. I wasn’t trying to look into it too much, being in my first NFL game. I was just out there playing football. That’s what I love to do. That’s what I want to do.”
That’s good, because it looks like the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder from Bowling Green
has a bright future in the game.
Bayer has been one of the surprises since the Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent at the conclusion of the draft in the spring. He impressed during OTAs, throughout training camp and in the Rams’ preseason opener against the Saints last Friday.
The 23 year old led St. Louis with five receptions for 71 yards in the 26-24 loss. He had an impressive 42-yard catch in the second half.
In his day-after press conference on Saturday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher
was asked what the organization saw in Bayer before the draft.
“We liked what we saw, the athleticism, the pass catching ability, he was well-coached there,” Fisher said. Tight ends coach “Rob Boras went out and had a private workout with him a week before the draft. We were kind of hoping he would fall, he did and so far it’s work out for us. He takes a lot of snaps here at camp and played a lot of snaps yesterday. I think he played over 40 snaps yesterday, 45 snaps. He’s hanging in there and continues to make the plays, so reliable. He’s getting to the right spot and the young quarterbacks trust him.”
Bayer liked what he saw from the Rams when he was trying to decide where to begin his NFL career. He said St. Louis was among his top three teams going into the draft and it was an easy decision to sign with Fisher’s club after the draft.
“Obviously they lost Mike McNeill last year and they are a team that normally carries four tight ends on the roster, and so they had an open roster spot,” Bayer said. “They didn’t draft anybody. They told me I was going to be the only one to come in and I’d have a shot to fight for that fourth spot. So I thought it was a no-brainer.”
Now, keeping Bayer as that fourth tight end may be a no-brainer for the Rams.
Bayer went into the first preseason game competing with Justice Cunningham
and converted defensive lineman Mason Brodine
for that spot. Brodine suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Saints and has since been replaced by Brad Smelley
on the 90-man roster.
Though Cunningham, Brodine and now Smelley all have more experience than the rookie, though not much more, Bayer has proven himself to be a legitimate candidate to win that job.
“I try not to look at it as I’m trying to beat out another guy,” Bayer said. “I’m just trying to play football to the best of my ability. It’s not like I’m out there rooting against those other two guys. We want to be the best tight end group in the league, so anything we can do to help each other out, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
And the undrafted rookie is doing everything he can to solidify his spot within that Rams’ tight end group.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. LOUIS — Alex Bayer was a little nervous at first. But it didn’t take long for the Rams’ undrafted rookie tight end to shake whatever nerves he had during his first NFL preseason game.