Wide receiver Pettis a target of St. Louis’ coach

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis rookie wide receiver Austin Pettis doesn’t mind the criticisms he is getting from coach Steve Spagnuolo.

The way the third-round pick from Boise State sees it, those verbal lumps from Spagnuolo throughout training camp are a positive.

“If the coach gets on you, that’s good,” Pettis said Tuesday. “That means he’s trying to get you to be a better player. And that’s fine with me.”

Spagnuolo sees plenty potential in Pettis, the 78th overall selection and said he picks on Pettis “because I kind of like him.”

Spagnuolo is pleased so far with the progress of Pettis, who made a couple nice catches during Tuesday’s practice session that lasted two hours and 35 minutes. He is particularly impressed with the way Pettis quickly picked up the Rams’ difficult offensive schemes.

Pettis had a strong four-year career at Boise State. He set school records in receptions (229) and touchdown catches (39) and was a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference selection his last two seasons.

The 23-year-old has taken most of his snaps with the second unit in camp, although he has also had a few reps with the starters. He said he is gaining confidence every day.

Pettis is in a battle with at least 11 other receivers for what appears to be six roster spots.

“I don’t know if there is anybody that has sailed above the rest,” Spagnuolo said. “As a whole, the group is getting better because they are competing.”

Pettis and Greg Salas, a fourth-round draft choice from the University of Hawaii, are roommates battling for the same spot. Salas enjoys rooming with a fellow wideout.

“I’m more of the sloppy one, but it’s good to have someone to study with,” Salas said. “We bounce ideas off one another and we’re the first to help each other out.”

Pettis spent the offseason working out with several veterans, including quarterback Sam Bradford. He hopes that extra time will eventually pay dividends.

“It was good to get a little experience under my belt,” Pettis said. “I think it’s helped to put me on the same page as everyone else.”

Notes: Linebacker James Laurinaitis aggravated a pectoral muscle in his chest during Tuesday’s workout. Spagnuolo said he will be evaluated this morning. ... Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard left practice early with vision problems. ... Spagnuolo liked the speed of the workout Tuesday and stopped just short of calling it the best practice to date. “I thought we got better,” he said. “We had a lot of guys out there doing extra work.” ... The Rams announced Thursday’s workout will be closed to the public.

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