Veteran WR Holt ponders if he's being phased out by Rams

ST. LOUIS -- Receiver Torry Holt, his production down from years past, said Friday he feels "at times" like he is being phased out from the St. Louis offense.

Holt has 26 catches for 289 yards and a touchdown to lead the Rams (2-5), who will host the Arizona Cardinals (4-3) on Sunday. With three catches last week against New England, Holt passed Charlie Joiner for 15th place on the all-time yards receiving list.

No. 2 draft pick Donnie Avery has come on strong since Jim Haslett replaced Scott Linehan as coach during the bye after an 0-4 start. Avery has 20 catches, with 15 in the last three weeks, for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, Avery caught a 69-yard touchdown pass, the longest by the Rams since Holt had an 85-yard reception in 2000.

So, does Holt think he's slowly being phased out?

"I don't know; at times I do," said Holt, who is in his 10th season with the Rams. "At times, I feel like there's a situation where I'm getting phased. But who knows? We'll see how it goes."

Holt, 32, has an impressive resume. He has been the NFL leader in yards receiving and receptions since 2000.

So he acknowledged he was "surprised" by his workload reduction this season.

"Absolutely surprised, but you know, I guess they feel that Donnie obviously has been stepping up and making some huge plays and they want to continue to give him the football," Holt said. "I try to keep some balance and play and do what I can do to help our football team win."

He was hampered all last season by a balky right knee, but still led the team with 93 receptions for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns. Holt has nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, second only to Jerry Rice.

There are no knee problems this year for the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver.

"I feel good," Holt said. "There's some soreness and tightness at times. I haven't been getting as much work during games, so I'm not tremendously sore on Mondays. It's not like I'm in the training room every day getting treatment. I haven't missed a practice. I get myself ready to help our team win on Sunday."

Still, Holt said he is frustrated.

"When you go from getting as many opportunities and touches as I've had in the past to not nearly as many, it's definitely a sense of frustration."

However, Holt said he has not gone to any coaches to complain.

"I don't feel like I need to speak to anybody about that," Holt said. "My body of work speaks for itself. I'm not going to make a stink about it or a fuss about it. I'll just go with the flow."

Haslett said opposing defenses have something to do with Holt not getting the ball more.

"Just because of the coverages more than anything," Haslett said. "But his numbers will come up; they'll jump up. We're doing some different things with him, trying to get the young guys on the field, but his numbers will come up."

What happens with Holt against Arizona depends on what the Cardinals throw at the Rams' offense, Haslett said.

"I guess it's all based on the coverage and what they're trying to do, to be honest with you," Haslett said. "Torry got a lot of two-mans last week. When you have two guys running with you, it's hard to get open."

When Haslett took over, he proclaimed he wanted the ball in the hands of the Rams' playmakers. He specifically mentioned Holt along with some others.

Holt remembered that.

"I'm here every day, working and getting myself prepared," Holt said. "I was told the same thing. I'll stay patient and see how things develop."

Running back Steven Jackson said the Rams need a productive Holt.

"When you think of the St. Louis Rams, you think of Torry Holt," Jackson said. "In my mind he's a guy that's a Pro Bowler year in and year out, and his continued leadership on and off the field is, I think, what's really kept the continuity in the locker room together.

"We have to get him the ball. I know he's the leading receiver. With Donnie emerging, I think that will open it up a little more. Torry, he's not worried about it. His numbers will come."

Returner/receiver Dante Hall joked he was going to have T-shirts made saying "Free Torry Holt."

"We need to get him the ball," Hall said.

Regardless, Holt said he will keep working.

"I'll continue doing my part," Holt said. "I'll continue to be a team guy like I've always been."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.