The bad news is that Rams receiver Stedman Bailey will miss the first four games of the season, due to a PED suspension. The good news is that, when he returns, Bailey could be ready to make a big impact.
The second-year wideout, a third-round pick and teammate of first-rounder Tavon Austin at West Virginia, continues to draw positive reviews for his performance in training camp.
“Sted made a lot of plays today,” coach Jeff Fisher said after the team’s first practice of the year inside the Edward Jones Dome, via quotes distributed by the team. “He’s there. He knows how to get open, and knows how to make the plays. Yes, we’ll miss him, but he’s going to push right through camp and we’ll get through his ordeal and we’ll get him right back in the lineup.”
The upcoming suspension won’t result in Bailey getting less work during the preseason.
“He’s going to get plenty of work and so are the other guys,” Fisher said. “We’ve got four preseason games and there’s plenty of snaps, plenty of practice snaps to have him ready.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford agrees with Fisher’s optimism.
“Stedman’s been great all camp, all spring,” Bradford said. “I think he’s going to be a big part of what we do when he gets back. Obviously, it’s a bummer that he’s not going to be with us the first four [games], but when he comes back, the timing and everything that we’re doing right now is to make sure that we’re ready when he does get back. He’s been very productive. . . . He’s a very smart receiver. He’s always in the right place. He’s got a great instinct, just about feeling different zones and getting open. I think he’s going to be a big target in the offense this year and I think it showed today. He caught a lot of balls out here today.”
The Rams have spent the last few years loading up on wideouts, but waiting for the payoff. As to Bailey, it could come this year. If it also happens for other young receivers, the Rams could indeed be ready to disrupt the Seahawks-49ers domination of the division.