MEQUON, Wis. (AP) -Tight end Randy McMichael caught a pass and his helmet, which had popped off, without breaking stride during a dazzling play at St. Louis Rams' training camp.
McMichael, a somewhat forgotten option in one of the NFL's worst offenses last year, has made several less-spectacular grabs. It's a promising sign for an offense that was one of the NFL's worst last season.
"Randy's still going to be a guy who's going to be big in the run game and pass protection," Linehan said. "But he's going to be a weapon for us. In this system, he's going to get some pretty good looks, and he's really done a good job."
McMichael averaged 65 catches the previous three seasons before joining the Rams in a three-year, free-agent deal after the Miami Dolphins released him in a salary-cap move. His big numbers in Miami under then-offensive coordinator Linehan made St. Louis a natural destination. But the Rams went 3-13 in a forgettable season.
He finished with 39 catches, an 11-yard average and three touchdowns last year. He spent most of the time blocking when three linemen, notably seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace, landed on injured reserve.
Aside from a six-reception game against Pittsburgh near the end of the season, he had more than three grabs in only two games.
This year, 65 catches may not be enough in an attack that promises to use more of the field and skill players. That would be good news for a receivers' group that had no plays longer than 40 yards last season.
"I hope more than that," McMichael said. "I'm really excited for this offense."
Last year, McMichael and quarterback Marc Bulger also had to get on the same page. McMichael noted Bulger's familiarity with Torry Holt, built over several seasons. McMichael wasn't a big part of the offense in Bulger's first six seasons.
"It was a new role that I wasn't accustomed to, and me being the person I was, I didn't really want to adjust," McMichael said. "I really felt like 'Why do I have to adjust my game?' But I had to.
"It was miserable, but it was a humbling experience. It lets you know that sometimes things aren't going to always go your way."
Those days appear to be over. New offensive coordinator Al Saunders has bigger plans for McMichael, who has been one of Bulger's favorite and most reliable targets in camp.
"It's my opportunity, so I'm just going out there and trying to make a play," McMichael said. "It's all about getting better and learning from your mistakes. That's all I'm trying to do is be consistent and keep gaining the trust of Marc and the offensive coaches, so they know that when it's time to call the play, I'll be ready for it."
Last year, McMichael was often a decoy when running a pattern. This year, he won't just be clearing space.
"Now, you run like you're getting the ball every play," McMichael said. "Everybody is in a progression whenever a play is called. That's why you have guys flying all over the place, because everybody wants to get the ball.
"So, I think the first guy to get open, Marc's going to throw it to him."