With wide receiver Danny Amendola out at least one month and perhaps two, the question for the St. Louis Rams is who will replace him as quarterback Sam Bradford's go-to receiver.
Whether it is no one, or one player or a slot receiver by committee, the answer will go a long way toward determining whether the offense can score enough points to build from a 3-2 start fashioned by three home victories over the Washington Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals.
Those in the mix include Steve Smith, Austin Pettis and Chris Givens. The most likely reality is that coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's game plan will likely include all of the above.
As Bradford said, "Danny going down just opens the door, gives an opportunity to some of our other receivers to step up and make plays. I think Steve Smith is a tremendous inside receiver. I look for him to take advantage of this opportunity. And then the young guys as well.
"Danny caught a lot of balls, was involved in a lot of our passing game. Those balls, they have to go somewhere. I think whoever steps up, plays at a high level, will start to see their productivity increase."
Smith has been inactive the last two games, and he has five receptions for 70 yards. Pettis, who missed the first two games of the season under league suspension, has three catches for 28 yards. Givens has big-play speed, and while he's caught just four passes, two have been for 51 and 52 yards, with the former being a touchdown. His other two receptions totaled just 9 yards. Still, with teams now having to respect his downfield ability, it is likely the offense will look to get him the ball on some shorter routes and hope his quickness can result in significant yards after the catch.
Rookie Brian Quick, while not a slot receiver, should see more opportunities, although he has only one reception for 19 yards.
Talking up the group, which also includes Brandon Gibson (13 for 184 and two touchdowns), Bradford insisted, "I said this earlier this year; I think this is the deepest we've ever been at that position. I think there's been great competition all year at that position. Those guys have continued to get better from the day the season started. I feel really good about where we are right now."
Asked how Amendola's 32 catches and 395 yards can be replaced, coach Jeff Fisher said, "Well, it's like anything else. Whenever you've got an injury, someone else has to step up. Often times it's more than just one person, so we're expecting the entire group to step up. And hey, that can include the tight ends as well. So, guys will step in, and there's the flexibility at the receiver position to where we'd be able to interchange different guys at that spot."
Smith could be the wild card in the group after watching the last two games. When Fisher was asked how Smith handled being inactive, he said, "Like a pro. Worked in, just changed his role, worked to give the defense the best look he possibly could. He even continued with that (Wednesday). Don't expect him to like it, but he understood and he understands patience. Unfortunately through injury, he's been given another opportunity."
Many will now have that opportunity. The Rams' success until Amendola returns could hinge on if anyone can take advantage of it.