Though he's been one of their most productive receivers in training camp so far, Stedman Bailey won't be catching any balls for the St. Louis Rams during the first month of the regular season.
"Sted's looked good all camp," Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said after throwing more than a half dozen passes to the second-year wideout during the team's FanFest practices on Saturday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome. "He's a very smart receiver. He's always in the right place. He's got a great instinct, just about feeling different zones and getting open. I think he's going to be a big target in the offense this year."
The Rams won't have Bailey for the first four games of the 2014 season. He was suspended by the NFL back in May for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Due to the team's bye in Week 4, Bailey won't be eligible to play in a game until Oct. 13 when the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
"I think not only 'Sted,' but all the receivers are having a really big camp," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Saturday. "Brian Quick took the day off today. He's had some really good days thus far, but Sted made a lot of plays today. He's there. He knows how to get open, and knows how to make the plays. Yes, we'll miss him, but he's going to push right through camp and we'll get through his ordeal and we'll get him right back in the lineup."
Despite his looming suspension, Bailey has continued to get reps with the Rams' starting offense.
"Actually, it makes me feel really good that they have the confidence in me to keep me out there and let me reps with the 1's," Bailey said. "Once I get back, I hope I can get into a rotation and help the team out."
Bailey was a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was a teammate of Rams' first-round pick Tavon Austin, and they're the only two receivers in Mountaineers history with more than 3,000 career receiving yards.
Bailey's playing time was limited mostly to special teams in the first half of his rookie season. He caught his first pass -- a 12-yard reception from quarterback Kellen Clemens in Week 9 against Tennessee.
Bailey showed a lot of promise over the final eight games of the season, catching 17 passes for 226 yards. He had 27-yard touchdown run off a double reverse against Tampa Bay in Week 16.
Bailey said he's feeling a lot more comfortable heading into his second season in the NFL.
"The game has slowed down a whole lot for me and I know what I am doing," Bailey said. "I don't have to think and then go play. I know exactly what I am doing so I can showcase my talent and just go play ball."
Bailey was one of a handful of receivers invited by Bradford to Norman, Okla., for a special passing camp during the Rams' summer break.
"During the offseason, I got a chance to go up to Oklahoma with Sam, just getting some extra work on chemistry and being on the same page, and so far it is paying off," Bailey said. "We put in about two good days of work."
Bradford said it was important to be able to work on his timing with Bailey.
"It's huge, especially knowing that we were going to spend a couple weeks without him," Bradford said. "I think those two days with him in Norman were probably even more valuable than with some of the other guys. Making sure that we have everything down before he has to leave the building."
Bailey is eligible to participate in all four of the Rams' preseason games. Then he'll be barred from participating in any team activities during his suspension.
"Hopefully, it will go by pretty fast," Bailey said.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.