Bajema gives Rams a threat at tight end
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Billy Bajema caught the first two touchdown passes of his career last weekend. The Rams hopes the veteran tight end can keep it up.
Bajema, a seventh-round draft pick in 2005 by San Francisco, caught only seven passes in four years with the 49ers. He came to St. Louis as a free agent last season and had eight receptions.
The 28-year-old Bajema has been more productive this year with 11 catches for a careerhigh 106 yards and those two touchdowns in Sunday’s win at Denver.
“It was fun getting into the end zone,” said Bajema, who had not scored since he was at Oklahoma State.
Bajema came in to replace injured rookie Michael Hoomanawanui, who went down with a sprained right ankle. The first score came on a 2-yard pass from Sam Bradford when he got behind a defensive back in the back left corner of the end zone with 5:45 left in the first half.
His catch of the day came when he hauled in a 26-yard TD pass from Bradford with 2:53 remaining. Rumbling down the field, the 6-foot-4, 259-pound Bajema made an over-theshoulder snag running toward the left sideline. Bajema said he could get used to that. “Once you get a taste of it, you kind of want more,” Bajema said Friday. “I always felt I could make those plays if I had the opportunity.” Certainly, his performance impressed coach Steve Spagnuolo. “That was a really nice catch on the second touchdown,” Spagnuolo said. “Over his shoulder, good call, well-developed play. Billy ran the right route and caught it. It was good to see him get that because he’s one of those hard workers.”
Hoomanawanui, who also caught a touchdown pass in the 36-33 victory at Denver, will be out four to six weeks. Bajema should continue to add to his totals, beginning this weekend at Arizona.
“I think it could become a good opportunity to step in and help the team win and continue to make the tight end a position that makes plays for this offense,” Bajema said.
That’s fine by Bradford.
“Billy is just a guy who does everything very good. If you need him to block someone, he can block someone,” Bradford said. “If you need him to run a route, he can do it. It seems like the rookies, when we all got here, it seemed like all the coaches pointed to Billy and said, ‘If you want to know what a professional is, look at Billy Bajema.’
“And that’s what it is, it’s someone that comes to work everyday. He works hard, does the right thing. He helps this football team in a lot of different ways.”
That’s what offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has in mind. The versatility Bajema brings will serve him well.
What’s helps, too, is the uniformity of his play.
“Billy’s probably one of our most consistent guys,” Shurmur said. “(Tight ends coach) Frank (Leonard) says it all the time when we’re talking about personnel as his position coach. He says, ‘Hey, you know what to expect from Billy, and he gives it to you every day.’ To me, he’s a very valuable guy to this team and this offense.”