EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In the last two years with general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher making the St. Louis Rams' personnel decisions, the team has selected a wide receiver in each of the first four rounds of the draft.
In 2012, it was Brian Quick with the first pick of the second round and Chris Givens in the fourth round. Last year, the Rams traded up from the 16th spot in the first round to eighth to take Tavon Austin. In the third round, it was Austin's college teammate at West Virginia, Stedman Bailey.
Clearly, the Rams hope all four players take big steps this season as the team strives to close the gap in the NFC West between them and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. But the wild card in the team's pass-catching corps this season could be Kenny Britt, a former first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans who is trying to resurrect his career in St. Louis playing for the coach that drafted him in Tennessee.
With the Rams in the midst of their OTAs, Britt made it clear the reason he opted to sign a prove-it one-year contract with the Rams this offseason was the presence of Fisher.
"He's one of the coaches I'll follow anywhere," Britt said. "I'll run through a brick wall for the guy. He's a player's coach. He gets it. There's things that happen around your life, and some people will cut you off. He will just open their arms a little bit wider and let you know they're by your side."
While Britt had several off-field issues while with the Titans, Fisher had no qualms about adding him to the roster.
"It wasn't difficult at all," Fisher said. "I stayed in touch with Kenny my year off while he was rehabbing (2011 knee surgery). We spent some time together and I tried to help him get some things behind him. And he did. He's got everything straightened out now."
In the early OTAs, Britt stood out on the field, not only with his size (6 feet 3, 223 pounds), speed and pass-catching ability but with his passion for playing that sometimes crossed the line with trash-talking.
In one OTA, after beating cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson on deep passes, Britt was vocal toward both players. Then, after a scrum that involved Alec Ogletree and resulted in Fisher calling players to a huddle to talk to them, Britt and Johnson got into a wrestling match with both players ending up on the ground and Britt on top of Johnson.
After that, Fisher's voice exploded in excoriating the players. While the coach likes a certain amount of aggressiveness in practice, he said his words were to "just let them know that we have some rules we have to abide by and we have to learn to protect each other a little better. (But) it was good. It was very competitive."
As for Britt, Fisher said, "He's a very emotional kid. He's an emotional receiver. He looks the part, and he can make the plays. I was really happy to see him come on (board). Kept himself in really good shape during the free agency period. Came in and has done a great job. He's had no setbacks, he feels great physically. So he can potentially return to where he was a very productive receiver."
That's what Britt is pushing for, and treating this as the fresh start it truly is.
"It's everything to me," he said. "My mind is free and relaxed right now. I'm taking this year as a rookie year, like when I first came into the league. That's my mind state right now. Starting from scratch.
"I'm just trying to get back to where I was before. I'm feeling healthy. I'm feeling strong."
He also said not to read too much into the extra-curricular things that happen on the field.
"We take that on the field, off the field, in the weight room, in the locker room," Britt said. "Guys love it. We're males out there; this is a man's game. That's one thing, when you come between those lines, you compete. When we go in the locker room, we're brothers."
Quarterback Sam Bradford loves what he has seen from Britt.
"He's a big, explosive wide receiver who can make plays down the field," Bradford said. "He's looked really good in his time here. I think just watching him and the energy that he comes onto the field with every day has been great. Not only for the offense, but for that wide receiving corps in general. I just feel like he brings kind of a presence and an energy that maybe hasn't been there in the past."