Young players spark Rams' offense in preseason win

Monday, August 25, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- In search of the boost that could ignite a stagnant offense, Rams coach Scott Linehan turned to an injection of youth in the team's third preseason game.

Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton were drafted with the idea of infusing the offense with a much needed dose of speed.

The first look at Avery and Burton provided a glimpse of a fast future with big play after big play in a 24-10 win against Baltimore on Saturday night.

Apparently, the future is now.

"What I was most pleased with was the speed they played at," Linehan said. "They played fast. They kind of changed the game in a lot of ways when they started to make plays and they were out on the field together. It was fun. They sparked us in a lot of ways, and that's what youth does sometimes."

After enduring a little more than 10 preseason games as the coach of the Rams without a touchdown from his top offensive unit, Linehan turned to the rookie duo to finally reach pay dirt.

Burton made an acrobatic catch in the right corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to break the scoring jinx in the second quarter. He finished with three catches for 63 yards, adding another diving catch in the third quarter for a gain of 40 yards.

"You just go out there and try to play your role," Burton said. "I am trying to get on the field. If it's blocking or whatever, it doesn't matter because I do whatever the coach asks me to do."

Making his first appearance in NFL game action after missing the first two exhibition contests with a pelvic bone injury, Avery admittedly was nervous.

He dropped a few opportunities to make some plays, but rebounded to finish with five catches for 65 yards. He also chipped in on special teams with a pair of kick returns for 47 yards.

Linehan said he was impressed with Avery's ability to forget instantly his mistakes and come right back.

"He looked a little nervous on a couple of plays," Linehan said. "But the bright spot was that he just kept playing. He got better as he continued to play and didn't let himself get down."

The Rams will wrap up their exhibition slate Thursday night against Kansas City.

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