Receiver closing in on 1,000 yards at midseason

Updated: November 6, 2003, 8:20 PM ET
ESPN

ST. LOUIS -- At the halfway point of the season, the St. Louis Rams' Torry Holt is on pace to break the NFL record for reception yardage.

At least one of his teammates -- Marshall Faulk -- is not surprised by the big numbers put up by the player who nicknamed himself "Big Game."

Holt leads the league with 63 catches for 978 yards, needing only 22 for his fourth straight 1,000-yard season. At this pace, the NFL record of 1,848 yards by Jerry Rice of the 49ers in 1995 is in jeopardy. The franchise record set by teammate Isaac Bruce, 1,781 yards, also in 1995, is in danger, too.

Holt's rookie year with the Rams was 1999, when Marshall Faulk arrived in a trade from the Colts. Right away, Faulk took note of the first-round pick who helped the Rams win the Super Bowl.

"My first couple of years here, playing with him, I predicted what's happening right now for him," Faulk said. "I told him in this offense, with all the things you have around you, the possibilities are endless."

Lately, that's been the case. Holt was the lone standout on offense in last week's 30-10 loss at San Francisco, catching 11 passes for 200 yards and a 41-yard touchdown.

In the last five games, he has 45 catches for 735 yards with seven touchdowns. He was the NFC offensive player of the month in October.

"I just continue to practice hard and go out on Sunday and do what I can do to help this team win ballgames," Holt said. "I'm not getting too concerned with putting up the huge numbers."

They just seem to come naturally as he and Marc Bulger develop an awareness of each other. He has one 12-catch game, two 11-catch games and five 100-yard games.

"How can you not be excited about where Torry Holt is right now?" coach Mike Martz said.

Holt already has two more touchdown receptions than his previous career best. And he has an outside shot at Michael Irvin's record of 11 100-yard games set with the Cowboys in 1995.

He's already in the record book for highest average gain, catching three passes for 189 yards (63.0) against the Falcons in 2000.

"The things he keeps doing is, week to week, he goes out and plays hard," Faulk said. "Every week he's playing harder and harder and harder, and those are the things you have to do to get better."

It's perhaps natural that Holt isn't worried about the Ravens' defense this week.

"We're definitely going to be challenged by that secondary, but we've been challenged all year long," Holt said. "I know the offensive line will do a great job of giving Marc time to get us the ball up the field."

The Ravens know they're in for a challenge.

"He's an explosive receiver and a great all-around player," strong safety Gary Baxter said. "They've got speed, we've got speed, so we're just going to get up on the line and press them. May the best man win."

So far, Holt has benefited from the extra attention Bruce always draws. Not that Bruce is exactly lagging: The 10-year veteran holds all of the major franchise receiving records and is fifth in the NFL this year with 692 yards on 43 catches.

Faulk's return this week after missing five games and six weeks with a broken left hand and injured right knee could open up things even more for both players. Faulk is widely acknowledged as one of the best receiving backs.

"As a receiver, he's pretty special obviously," Martz said of Faulk. "He does some outstanding things that you don't realize until you don't have him."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index