With the Rams sitting at 5-2 and currently tied a top of the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks, Henry Ellard was gracious enough to chime in about the 2017 Rams, more specifically the wide receivers. Ellard is third all-time on the Rams receiving yards list with 9761 yards and 15th all-time on the career receiving list with 13,777 yards. The former star is also a Hall of Fame nominee. Ellard is currently the head football coach of a small private school in San Antonio, Texas.
Tell me about the current receiving corps with the Rams and what you like about them
“I really like Robert Woods. I watched him in college, and when he got out of college. From his workouts, his movements, he just knows how to get open. I really like to watch him play. He is great route runner.
Tavon Austin reminds me of Percy Harvin, he isn’t a true wide receiver. He has gotten better, but he needs the repetitions. To me he is a gadget guy. He serves as a great decoy. This current staff really knows how to use him and he opens things up for other guys.
Sammy Watkins was great out of college, but a foot injury really hurt him when he first got into the league. His biggest challenge right now is learning the playbook. But I tell you when he does, look out, this group will be special. Another thing is he has to finish plays. There was a play earlier this season, where Jared Goff threw a deep ball and Watkins gave up on the play because he didn’t think the ball was going to be thrown to him. You just can’t do that. You have to run hard every play. It reminds me of a play in 1989 against the Patriots. I was the third progression and the ball never got thrown to me on that play all season. But I ran hard and I looked up and Jim Everett threw me the ball, I ended up running up the sidelines for 40 plus yards. I know Eric Yarber the Rams assistant coach talked to him, he will get it right.
Josh Reynolds is another guy I love. I worked with him at the IMG academy. He is tall and athletic and has a great work ethic. Right now, he is buried on the depth chart, but he is doing it the right way by playing on special teams.
Cooper Kupp is another guy who knows how to get open. When the Rams need a big play Kupp is the guy.
Gurley is a key element to this receiving corps doing so well. He really balances everything out.”
How does Sean Mcvay’s system help the wide receivers succeed?
“The biggest thing is the quarterback. Goff has been great. If you have a guy who can get you the ball, that’s what you really need. I always tell my guys it really is just playing catch with the quarterback. If you can run the routes correctly and you have a guy to throw you the ball, it’s just like playing catch. For the first year in the system under McVay it really says a lot about him, how he gets so much out of his players.”
Which of the current Rams wide receivers reminds you of yourself?
“It would have to be Robert Woods. He is a great route runner, he is crafty, and he just knows how to get open. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I didn’t mind having the defender at my hip, because when the ball was thrown, I knew I had better ball skills and would go up and get it.”
Can you see any parallels between this year’s receiving corps and when you were playing?
“Times are way different with the way they throw the ball now. I guess you could compare myself playing with Flipper Anderson, Aaron Cox and Ron Brown. They were the deep route runners and I ran the underneath routes. I mean, we didn’t throw the ball like teams do now days.”
It’s funny to hear you say you were the underneath route runner when you averaged 16.9 yards per catch for your career. Please elaborate?
“We used to send all of the other guys on the deep routes and I ran a lot of 20 yard ins or corner routes. It’s funny but I could make five catches and get 100 yards receiving.”
Do you have any predictions for the rest of the season?
“I’m just waiting to see. So far, they have done well, but can they keep it going? I am excited to see how they react as times get tougher and they get deeper into the season.”
One last question, how did you get the nickname grasshopper?
“I was a triple jumper in college and all the guys on the team would watch me and they started calling me grasshopper. The name stuck with me in the NFL, but some of the guys would just call me hop.”
As you can see Ellard has love for the Ram’s and he is especially happy that they are back in Los Angeles. He referred to St. Louis as “a baseball town”. He said he is hoping to get to a game here in Los Angeles later in the year once his high school coaching season is over. I can tell you from speaking to Ellard he is not only an all-time great Ram, but he is an all-time great person. It was really a pleasure speaking with him. Once the Ram’s receivers gel Ellard says, “the sky’s the limit”. So, sit back and watch this young team blossom. Be ready to enjoy the ride.