The Road to 53: Making a case for Mardy Gilyard

Mardy Gilyard catches a pass against the Chiefs. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat, Getty Images
Mardy Gilyard leads all Rams WRs in catches so far in the preseason, but none of them have come from Bradford.

Say this for Mardy Gilyard: he’s earning his shot this preseason to show he belongs on the team.

After an injury-stunted rookie year and a tumultuous offseason that had many questioning his readiness to play, and watching the Rams reload with another round of young receiver talent, it would have been easy to simply disappear. But Gilyard showed up to camp with a fully rehabbed wrist and a determination to not be ignored in this WR competition.

He’s earned all kinds of attention from coaches so far, some good and some bad. Visitors to the Rams’ practice field earlier this summer had a good chance of hearing Gilyard get chewed out by Josh McDaniels for cutting his route off early, or lining up in the wrong spot, or not getting to the proper depth.

But he’s clearly doing more right than wrong, as the coaching staff has given nearly all of the available kick and punt return opportunities – more than triple any other player this preseason – and with six catches leads all Rams wideouts (along with Danny Amendola) in receptions. His biggest catch set up Josh Brown’s game-winning kick against Tennessee. 

With Gilyard raising his profile, ESPN’s Mike Sando makes a case for keeping him on the roster

The value Gilyard offers on special teams separates him from the other receivers fighting for roster spots, notably Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander. Gilyard also has healthier knees than either of those players.

Special teams has been Danny Amendola’s province and his way of overcoming long odds as an undrafted camp-hopping player. And once the regular season starts, he will likely reclaim at least part of those duties, says coach Spagnuolo.

“We haven’t used him on special teams as much in preseason, but I’m sure you’ll see him the regular season,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s special that way. He wants to do it. He wants to be out there every play so when you have a guy like that, you use him as much as you can.”

For now, Amendola sits on the sideline with relative job security, and watches as Gilyard tries to overcome his own long odds via the return game. One thing is clear this summer that maybe wasn’t a year ago – Gilyard wants to be out there on every play, too.