Holt, Bruce will watch rival pair
November 18, 2006

When the Carolina offense is on the field Sunday, a couple of observers will be viewing intently from the opposite sideline.

Although Rams wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt have 1,526 receptions, 23,082 yards and nine Pro Bowls between them, they're not averse to pilfering tips from their NFL colleagues. They'll be witnessing one of the league's best twosomes Sunday in the Panthers' Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson.

Asked if he might sneak a peek, Bruce said, "I won't peek; I'll just flat-out watch. I'm always in the process of learning."

Added Holt: "I'll have my eye on them. Hopefully I can pick up something and apply it to my game."

Smith and Johnson, who, combined, have four fewer seasons, don't have comparable career stats with Bruce and Holt. But this year, the two tandems are running almost neck-and-neck.

Bruce and Holt have 94 catches, 1,317 yards and eight touchdowns. Smith and Johnson have 96 catches, 1,296 yards and six TDs.

Smith is fourth in the NFL in yards (780) and tied for sixth in receptions (53); Holt is 11th (697) and eighth (52), respectively. Johnson (43 and 516) and Bruce (42 and 620) rank in the top 30 in both categories.

"I'd buy a ticket for this game to watch those guys play," Rams coach Scott Linehan said.

One dissimilarity between the pairs is their size. While Holt (6 feet, 190 pounds) and Bruce (6-0, 188) are virtual twins, Smith (5-9, 185) doesn't come close to measuring up with Johnson (6-4, 211).

"Keyshawn has done a great job of understanding the game and knowing how to put himself in position by using his big body," Rams wide receivers coach Henry Ellard said. "Steve is a little guy with a chip on his shoulder ... very tough and very explosive. He plays like he's a tall receiver, and he doesn't back down from anything."

Smith last season joined Jerry Rice and Sterling Sharpe as the only wideouts since 1970 to lead the NFL in receptions (103), yards (1,563) and touchdown catches (12). This year, Smith tops the league in yards per game (111.4).

By Bill Coats

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