Gilyard set to debut for Rams vs. Browns

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Rams wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, right, hauls in a pass as cornerback Jerome Murphy defends during training camp last month in St. Louis. (JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis rookie Mardy Gilyard is scheduled to make his NFL preseason debut against Cleveland on Saturday.

The site of his first professional contest is not lost on the speedy wide receiver, who played at the University of Cincinnati.

"That's a big rivalry, the two cities," said Gilyard, a fourth-round selection. "Being in Cincinnati for so long, you tend to [love] Cincinnati."

Gilyard missed the Rams' preseason opening 28-7 loss to Minnesota on Saturday with a sore left wrist that is in the process of healing.

Gilyard, who was slowed considerably by the injury during the first part of camp, came on strong this week with back-to-back efforts that caught the eye of coach Steve Spagnuolo. Gilyard made a pair of leaping catches Wednesday and also hauled in a long pass from quarterback Sam Bradford midway through the 2 hour, 30 minute workout.

"I want to be one of those rookies that the vets can trust out there when I walk out there with the ones [starting unit]," Gilyard said. "Whoever is under center can know that we can unleash the whole thing with this guy out here."

Gilyard took a blow on the wrist during a scrimmage Aug. 6 and had been limited until this week.

Now he is ready to cut loose. He is wearing a small soft, protective cast on the wrist which he says is not a hindrance.

"I've been catching pretty well with it," he said.

Gilyard caught 204 passes for 3,003 yards and 25 touchdowns at Cincinnati. He also was a standout return specialist.

He is in a 10-player battle for one of the open wide receiver positions. He also may be called upon to spell Danny Amendola on the return teams.

"It's not easy for a wide receiver to play with a cast on," Spagnuolo said. "He's been catching the football during punts, kickoff returns. It's good to see."

Spagnuolo and the medical staff are keeping a watchful eye on Gilyard, who is going at full speed despite the injury.

"Right now, [the cast] is more protective," Spagnuolo said. "But he's got something there, so we're going to be careful with it."

St. Louis running back Steven Jackson also appears set to make his 2010 debut Saturday.

He underwent a minor procedure to repair a herniated disc in his spine in April and has been brought along slowly during camp although he appears to have stepped up the pace the last few days.

"I feel crisp, I feel good," Jackson said. "I'm not worried about the back. I feel great. I'm preparing as if I'm going to [play Saturday]. It's easier to go with that mindset."

Jackson even was involved in a little altercation with teammate Gary Gibson on Tuesday.

"It's part of football," he said of the scuffle in which he ripped off Gibson's helmet. "Offense, defense, sometimes we forget we're on the same team."

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