EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Training camps around the league are either already underway or will be before the end of the week. The St. Louis Rams officially get underway on Friday.
In the days leading up to the start of camp, we'll take a look at 10 burning questions facing the Rams as they head toward the 2015 season.
No. 9: Will the Rams receiving corps finally take the next step and offer consistent production?
After another underwhelming season in which the Rams receiver group was the second-least productive unit in the NFL -- trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs -- the team decided not to invest much in finding more help via free agency or the draft. Instead, the Rams stood pat by bringing back veteran Kenny Britt on a two-year contract and spending a late round pick on Bud Sasser.
Sasser never so much as took a snap for the team as it released him because of a medical concern. Britt returns to the mix as the team's best hope for more production on the heels of a season in which he became the first Rams wideout since Torry Holt in 2008 to exceed 700 yards receiving. That's not exactly ground-breaking but it did represent an upgrade for the Rams wideouts.
In the spring, Britt made it clear he has designs on going well beyond those numbers in 2015.
"There’s definitely more I feel like I can give because there’s more that I want to give and there’s more that I want to do in my career," Britt said in the spring. "I’m going into my seventh year, I feel I let myself down the last six years. I have a chip on my shoulder this year and I’ve got a lot to prove."
When it comes to Rams receivers, Britt isn't the only one with something to prove. Brian Quick, who flashed some promise in the first half of 2014, is recovering from shoulder surgery that prevented him from enjoying a potential breakout season. Quick figures to be the other starter opposite Britt on the outside if and when he returns to full strength.
Beyond that duo, the Rams have a pair of former West Virginia Mountaineers still looking to break out in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. That pair will likely battle for playing time in the slot. Chris Givens, who might be in his final go-around with the team if he's unable to offer more in 2015, projects as the fifth wideout.
Despite the lack of production from the group and an outside drumbeat for them to add a true No. 1 receiver, the Rams have remained steadfast in their support of this group. Part of that stems from the lack of a starting quarterback for the past season and a half as well as a running game that's failed to consistently open up opportunities on the outside.
With Nick Foles in place and heavy investments made in the offensive line and at running back, the Rams believe this is the year for at least one or two of the wideouts they've been so patient with to emerge. In an offense that figures to be run-heavy, the Rams don't need a wideout to post Calvin Johnson numbers, though they surely wouldn't mind. Instead, the Rams simply need their receivers to make big plays when presented with an opportunity.
If they don't, the team's patience with their young group could finally expire.