Friday, September 24, 2010
Rams find unlikely example to follow
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
St. Louis Rams guard Adam Goldberg was speaking from inside the visitors' locker room at the Oakland Coliseum, reflecting upon what his team's offense needed.
"We, offensively, have to match the performance that Mark is giving us," Goldberg said.
Mark? At first I wondered whether Goldberg had misspoken. Steven Jackson is the leader of the Rams' offense. Marc Bulger is long gone. Then I realized Goldberg was referring to a player who had been with the team less than two weeks to that point.
No receiver in the NFC West has more receptions, receiving yards or receiving touchdowns than Mark Clayton.
Wide receiver Mark Clayton has 12 receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games with the Rams. No receiver in the NFC West has more receptions, receiving yards or receiving touchdowns this season. That stands as one of the bigger upsets through two games, particularly with Larry Fitzgerald and even Michael Crabtree in the division.
"[Clayton] is doing a great job for us. Hats off to him and we all need to match his performance and pick all our games up offensively."
That's a strong statement given how little time Clayton has had in the Rams' offense. The team acquired him from Baltimore on Sept. 6, a Monday. Clayton began practicing that Wednesday. He caught 10 passes against Arizona on Sept. 12 and two touchdown passes against Oakland a week later. How has he done it?
"I don't know," Goldberg said, "but he's the consummate professional. Does everything right. He came in the first week and was the guy in practice. Didn't miss any reps, mentally was on it, was in the right place at the right time all the time, all his shifts and motions were crisp."
Goldberg was so impressed, he sought out center Jason Brown, who played with Clayton in Baltimore, to see if the Ravens had run an offense even remotely similar to the one St. Louis runs. They had not.
"So, hats off to him," Goldberg said. "I'm proud to be playing with him, glad to be playing with him, glad he's here and really, offensively, we all need to get up on his level."