- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the better part of the past decade, any time even a semi-notable wide receiver becomes available or is perceived as available, fans of the St. Louis Rams wonder whether the team will be pursue him.
Just last week, rumors of Houston wideout Andre Johnson's unhappiness with the Texans had some asking if the Rams could pursue him. And when the Cleveland Browns released Greg Little, it brought on even more questions. Those are just two names to add to the list of the likes of Chad Johnson (multiple times), Terrell Owens (multiple times) and many others.
For what it's worth, the Rams don't have the cap space to add Johnson nor do I believe he'll be traded anyway. But the Rams have seemed to make it clear that they are pleased with their current options at the position even with potential starter Stedman Bailey suspended the first four games of the season for violation of the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
Early in the offseason, Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher voiced confidence in the team's current receiver corps but it was fair to wonder whether that faith remained after the team signed Kenny Britt to a one-year deal in free agency.
But the team's belief in the wideouts was on display again when it chose not to use any of its 11 picks on a receiver.
As it stands, Chris Givens and Britt are the most "proven" of the wideouts on the roster but neither has an extensive history of production. Without the services of Bailey, that duo would seem poised to have the first shot at starting on the outside with Tavon Austin working in the slot and mixing in outside the numbers.
Brian Quick is back for his third season and this year is clearly important for him since he has yet to reach the potential the Rams saw in him when they used the first pick of the 2012 second round to select him. Quick is a solid blocker and could play plenty because of that but will need to develop consistency as a route runner and pass catcher before his role can expand beyond that.
Austin Pettis also returns for his fourth year, making him the longest tenured receiver on the roster. He's the wideout whose playing time dipped the most toward the end of the season when Bailey started getting more reps though he worked back into the mix when Austin suffered an ankle injury. Pettis looked to be the odd man out heading into this year but could get a reprieve without Bailey in the first quarter of the season.
As they are with a handful of positions on the roster, the Rams are counting on player development to help the young receiver corps become productive. The Rams never really considered taking a receiver in the draft, even at the top of it, because of their faith in the group they already have. Only time will tell if that gamble pays off.