ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Donnie Avery finally lived up to the St. Louis Rams' expectations. Maybe now he'll be able to settle down.
The second-year receiver had his best game of the season for the offense-deprived, winless Rams last week with five receptions for 87 yards. He got a little carried away after catching a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a 38-10 loss to the Vikings and broke into an extended celebration dance.
"I got extra excited and I'm thinking we're going to go back down there and we're about to score again and score again and win the game," Avery said. "Rough start to the season, first touchdown of the season, I just took it out of proportion."
Avery also meant it to signal the end of frustrations for a team that committed three turnovers inside the 10 to give away any chance they had of being competitive with the unbeaten Vikings. He heard about it from Steve Spagnuolo the next day in a team meeting, though the coach said he didn't call out Avery by name.
"I addressed that with the team, I wasn't addressing one guy," Spagnuolo said. "I wasn't real fond of it."
"When we're down, we don't celebrate," Avery said. "I apologized to the team for making it about me and not about St. Louis."
Spagnuolo was plenty happy with Avery's emergence, especially after his struggles to be a factor for a team averaging less than seven points per game, worst in the NFL.
Avery was a second-round pick last year, and the first wide receiver taken, and had a big rookie year with 53 receptions. He's the top returnee at a position that once was loaded with veteran depth after the departure of Torry Holt for the Jaguars this offseason and Isaac Bruce for the 49ers after the 2007 season.
Avery leads the Rams with 18 receptions headed into this week's game at Jacksonville, but unheralded Laurent Robinson was the go-to wide receiver before going on injured reserve with ankle and leg injuries two weeks ago.
The Vikings, at least, saw the elusive Avery who was so impressive as a rookie, spinning and dodging for yards after the catch.
"I thought he had some nifty little plays, and that's what we've been looking for out of Donnie," Spagnuolo said. "Certainly, if we can keep getting that and Donnie can keep progressing, it's going to help us."
Quarterback Marc Bulger, who's expected back as starter after finishing Sunday's game when Kyle Boller sustained a mild concussion, said Avery might have struggled adjusting to his second offense in two seasons. Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur also is getting a better handle on what plays work for Avery, for whom speed is the top asset.
The same goes for fellow second-year wide receiver Keenan Burton, who has emerged in recent weeks and has 12 catches.
"It's a lot easier to call specific routes they do well than just smorgasbord," Bulger said. "If you're going to have Donnie getting in and out of routes, it's probably not his forte. When you can get him on speed routes, that's more what we like to do with him."
Bulger, who missed two starts with a bruised rotator cuff, said his velocity has improved daily. He got past concerns over re-injuring the shoulder last week.
"Hopefully nothing happens when I get hit," Bulger said. "But if you go into a game worried about getting hit you're going to struggle."
Boller ran the scout team after being cleared to return, although Spagnuolo said he'd be tested again Friday.
Offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick of this year's draft, took some repetitions with the first string behind Adam Goldberg at right tackle in practice. Smith missed the previous two weeks with a sprained left knee.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)