Speedy Holt in lock step with elite

Rams receiver leads NFL with 63 catches, 978 yards

November 08, 2003|By Glenn Kasses | Glenn Kasses,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ST. LOUIS - Being a top-flight receiver is nothing new to Torry Holt.

Drafted sixth overall in 1999, he helped the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title as a rookie and has had more than 1,300 yards in each season since.

This season, however, something has changed. The Rams - long known for their ability to spread the ball around the field - are focusing on fewer targets. And for Holt, that has meant a flurry of activity.

Suddenly, he is St. Louis' go-to guy. With an NFL-best 63 receptions for an NFL-best 978 receiving yards, Holt is on pace to shatter the single-season record for receiving yards and has surpassed his career high for touchdowns with nine.

"Physically I can compete with anybody in the National Football League," Holt said. "It's just a matter of me mentally knowing how they're going to play me, knowing how I can get open."

Both teammates and coaches have acknowledged that Holt came to training camp this year on a mission, and has become as good as any receiver in the league.

And, it doesn't hurt that the receiver on the opposite side of the field has gotten more double coverage all year long.

"Isaac [Bruce] continues to demand attention," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "It has freed up Torry somewhat too, and he's taken advantage of that. He's technically outstanding right now, just at the top of his game."

For Holt, it hasn't even mattered this year how well the team is doing - he's still putting up big numbers. He's caught at least five passes in each of the team's three losses, and in last week's 30-10 loss at San Francisco - the worst the Rams have looked in more than a month - he caught 11 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown.

"The crazy thing is, after we walked off the field last week and looked at who did what, I was just blown away that he had 11 for 200," receiver Dane Looker said. "I'm not saying that he did it quietly, but it's just so routine for him that it doesn't look out of the ordinary. I figured he had maybe six, seven catches for 100 yards. You look at the stats and it's double that. He's a complete package.

"It's not a coincidence that he's done so well this year. He stepped up his work ethic a little bit. He's always been a real motivated worker, but I think this year he's really paying attention to details. He knows it's his turn to step up."

Holt said the extra work he's put in is paying off not only while running his routes, but also on his way out of the huddle.

"The biggest thing that I'm doing a better job of this year is picking out the coverages a little quicker," Holt said. "Really paying close attention to the details of the game of football, allowing me to get open before the ball is snapped."

Why Holt hasn't attracted more attention from defenses this year remains a mystery, but it's been the Marc Bulger-to-Holt combination that has kept the Rams offense flying even with a number of injuries in the backfield.

And regardless of how other teams are looking at Holt, one thing is clear: At this pace, no one will forget his 2003 season.

"If things continue to go on the train that they are, he could put some records in the book," Looker said. "That's pretty impressive."

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