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Rams' unheralded receiving corps is making some noise

Rams' unheralded receiving corps is making some noise
Rams wide receiver Brian Quick (83) celebrates with wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) after scoring against the Lions during the first half on Oct. 16. (Duane Burleson / Associated Press)

The New York Giants’ receiving corps, and how the Rams plan to deal with Odell Beckham Jr. and Co., has been a main topic of discussion this week.

Beckham, veteran Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard present a formidable trio.

But Rams receivers also have been making noise of late.

“The whole group has stepped up,” Coach Jeff Fisher said Friday as the Rams practiced for the final time before Sunday’s game at Twickenham Stadium.

Rams receivers — including Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick — were derided before the season as collectively unproductive.

All were part of a 2015 offense that ranked last in the NFL in total offense and passing offense.

They go into Sunday's game coming off a productive — at times spectacular — performance in a 31-28 loss at Detroit.

Britt caught seven passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 43-yard reception and an acrobatic 47-yard, one-handed catch. He has a team-best 30 catches for 492 yards.

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Austin has 26 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown, and  Quick has 16 receptions, three for touchdowns, for a group under the direction of first-year receivers coach Mike Groh.

"We've been doing an OK job," Austin said, adding, "We've just got to keep carrying it over, keep putting points on the board.

"We can't score 28 one game and then score nothing the next game."

The receivers benefited from quarterback Case Keenum’s record-setting (19 straight completions) performance Sunday, and from his fairly consistent play this season.

Britt, an eighth-year pro in the final year of his contract, has been Keenum's go-to receiver from the outset and is on pace to establish career bests in catches and yards.

Quick, playing on a one-year "prove it" contract, emerged as a big-play threat early in the season and appears fully recovered from the 2014 shoulder injury that nearly ended his career.

Austin signed a four-year, $42-million extension in August. He caught a season-high seven passes against Buffalo but he has not yet broken out with a huge individual performance.

"I'm happy for Quick and all those guys," Austin said. "Kenny's killing it right now. Eventually the road will switch and that light bulb will go off and, hopefully, [No.] 11 is out there striking again."

Besides calling Austin’s number, the Rams were expecting a boost from rookies Pharoh Cooper and Nelson Spruce this season, but neither has caught a pass.

Cooper, a fourth-round draft pick, was sidelined for four games because of a shoulder injury, made his debut against Buffalo and was inactive against Detroit. Spruce, an undrafted free agent, has not played since suffering a knee injury in the exhibition opener against Dallas.

Bradley Marquez, a second-year pro, has two catches, including one for 13 yards against Detroit.

Fisher said Keenum’s trust in the receivers has been the key, and that they must continue to perform at a high level against a Giants secondary that features former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

"[Keenum's] putting the ball up and they're making the plays," Fisher said. "That's going to have to happen Sunday because there's going to be some tight throws and some tough catches and they're going to have to make the contested catches."

Josh Brown fallout

The Rams play a Giants team embroiled in controversy regarding the organization's handling of kicker Josh Brown and his domestic abuse situation.

Brown did not make the trip and the Giants signed Robbie Gould, who was released in September after 11 seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Rams punter Johhny Hekker said the situation would be difficult for any kicker.

"It's very tough but Robbie's an incredible kicker," Hekker said. "He's going to come out here and just prepare like it's the one shot he's got to stick with that team, which I'm sure it is for him."

Hekker punted an average of six times in the Rams' first four games and the Rams went 3-1.

He has kicked only twice in each of the last two games and they lost both.

Quick hits

Offensive lineman Jamon Brown will not play because of a hand injury so Cody Wichmann will start at right guard …. The Rams will go to Twickenham Stadium on Saturday for a walk-through …. Hekker said a London-based NFL franchise would be attractive because British fans support their teams and the NFL would market it effectively. "Getting paid in pounds isn't a bad deal, either," he said.

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