New Rams WR Clayton confident he can play in season opener

ST. LOUIS -- After one practice, new Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton believes he'll be ready in time for Sunday's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is optimistic, too, after seeing Clayton in action Wednesday. Bradford said it appeared Clayton already had a "great grasp" of the offense.

"He didn't ask a lot of questions," Bradford said. "He just got in the huddle, I called the play, and he knew where to go, knew where to line up and knew what to run.

"I think he's got a lot of speed. I think if we can get him the ball, he can definitely do some things with it."

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo also believed Clayton was a quick learner after noting he knew where to line up during a pre-practice walkthrough.

The Rams acquired Clayton on Monday from the Baltimore Ravens, who needed to make room for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Clayton adds needed experience at the position, especially after deep threat Donnie Avery was lost because of a knee injury in the preseason.

Clayton and Bradford are University of Oklahoma products and worked together on some 7-on-7 drills the summer before Bradford's junior year with the Sooners. Clayton text-messaged Bradford after the quarterback signed with the Rams as the No. 1 overall draft pick.

The veteran receiver had received a crash course on the offense from coaches to ease the learning curve, and he told them he didn't care where he lined up, just that he played.

"I've been all over," he said. "Backfield, running, I can throw it, kick it. Whatever you need."

Clayton has nine 100-yard receiving games, most in Ravens history, and in 2006, he caught 67 passes for a team-leading 939 yards and five touchdowns. His reception totals declined each season after that, and he's looking forward to a fresh start with the Rams.

"You've got to have the ball thrown your way to catch them," Clayton said. "What matters is right now, and what matters is moving in the right direction and winning games."

Before the trade, Clayton was with a playoff team. He didn't seem to mind landing with a team that won an NFL-worst one game last season.

"The difference between a champion and a team that has won a game is very minute," he said. "It all comes down to just details, fundamentals and being consistent. It's not killing yourself, especially for this offense."

Notes: Players voted RB Steven Jackson and FS Oshiomoghe Atogwe team captains for the season. Spagnuolo will choose two additional captains each week, with long-snapper Chris Massey and DE James Hall honored for the opener. ... SS James Butler (knee) returned to limited participation, but the starter will be Craig Dahl, who made eight starts last season. ... Former Oklahoma RB Allen Patrick, who has bounced around several NFL rosters the last three seasons, was signed to the practice squad.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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