After excelling in Cincinnati during college, St. Louis Rams rookie wide receiver Mardy Gilyard is eager to make his pro debut on the other side of the state of Ohio.
"That's a big rivalry, the two cities," said Gilyard, a fourth-round selection. "Being in Cincinnati for so long, you tend to (love) Cincinnati.
The 5-foot-11 Gilyard is just happy to be playing. He missed the Rams' preseason-opening 28-7 loss to Minnesota last week with a sore left wrist.
St. Louis running back Steven Jackson could also make his 2010 debut Saturday at Cleveland against the Browns.
Jackson underwent surgery on a herniated disk in April and is getting a light workload in the preseason.
"I feel crisp, I feel good," Jackson said. "I'm not worried about the back. I feel great. I'm preparing as if I'm going to (play Saturday). It's easier to go with that mindset."
Jackson was even involved in a little altercation with teammate Gary Gibson.
"It's part of football," he said of the scuffle in which he ripped Gibson's helmet off.
"Offense, defense, sometimes we forget we're on the same team."
Gilyard, who was also slowed by an injury during the first part of camp, came on strong this week with efforts that caught the attention of coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Gilyard made a pair of leaping catches on Wednesday and also hauled in a long pass from quarterback Sam Bradford midway through the 2-hour, 30-minute workout.
"I want to be one of those rookies that the vets can trust out there when I walk out there with the ones (starting unit)," Gilyard said. "Whoever is under center can know that we can unleash the whole thing with this guy out here."
Gilyard got hit on the wrist during a scrimmage on Aug. 6 that had limited him until this week.
Now, he is ready to cut loose. He is wearing a small soft, protective cast on the wrist which he says is not a hindrance.
"I'm been catching pretty well with it," he said.
Gilyard caught 204 passes for 3,003 yards and 25 touchdowns at Cincinnati. He also excelled as a kickoff and return specialist.
For now, Gilyard is in a tight competition at wide receiver. He may also be called upon to help Danny Amendola on the return teams.
"It's not easy for a wide receiver to play with a cast on," Spagnuolo said. "He's been catching the football during punts, kickoff returns. It's good to see."
Spagnuolo and the medical staff are keeping a careful watch on Gilyard.
"Right now, (the cast) is more protective," Spagnuolo said. "But he's got something there, so we're going to be careful with it."
Gilyard is enjoying his time in camp. He is learning from the veterans and hopes to put those lessons to good use on Saturday.
"All in all, I just can't wait to get out there and play," he said. "To let them know that money spent (on me) is not money wasted."
Notes: Defensive end George Selvie missed his second successive practice with a muscle strain in his leg. Selvie, a seventh-round choice out of South Florida, had four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in the loss to Minnesota.