Slot receiver Danny Amendola is money for the Rams

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola carries

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola carries the ball past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers (22) and free safety Dashon Goldson (38) during the third quarter of a game in San Francisco. (Nov. 11, 2012) (Credit: AP)

He's the smoothest of slot receivers.

He's fast and shifty, able to easily weave his way through defenders. Perhaps his hands are his best attributes.

Think we're talking about Wes Welker? Well, think again.

Danny Amendola is the spark in St. Louis, the go-to guy for Rams third-year quarterback Sam Bradford. Despite missing three games after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 5, the 5-11, 188-pounder leads the team with 43 receptions for 497 yards and two touchdowns.

Led by Amendola, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and running back Steven Jackson, the Rams have the 19th-best passing offense and the 12th-best rushing average. St. Louis (3-5-1) may not have a high-octane offense, but Amendola, who also doubles in the return game, is vital.

And it'll be up to the Jets (3-6) to stop him. Or, at best, contain him.

"I don't really think you can stop him," Rex Ryan said. "Because he's such a feature in what they do and they get him the football in a lot of creative ways . . . It's easier said than done to stop this guy."

In his first game back last week from a sternoclavicular joint separation -- an injury that could have sidelined him for as many as eight weeks -- Amendola caught 11 passes for 102 yards against the 49ers. Eight of those catches went for first downs. And with Amendola helping to move the chains, the Rams converted 44 percent of their third downs (7 of 16).

Comparisons between Amendola and Welker ran rampant in Florham Park in the lead-up to Sunday's game. But Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie offered this distinction: "I think he's faster than Wes . . . If you're not paying attention to him and doing the things that you need to do, he can beat you. I think guys need to understand you've got to be in a different type of zone covering a guy like him."

The commotion caused by unnamed sources and contested quotes only helped to divert attention at the Jets' facility from the crux of their issues. Whether Jets owner Woody Johnson believes it or not, his team is in a downward spiral.

One win won't miraculously save a season. But one win -- against these St. Louis Rams and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who left the Jets after the 2011 season -- will at least steer Ryan's beleaguered team in the right direction.

On the other hand, anything short of a "W'' will seal their fate. And Ryan knows it.

It feels like "forever" since the Jets last won a game, he said. And he won't allow himself to consider anything but a victory over St. Louis.

The Jets, he said, aren't like other teams hoping for positive results on game day.

"We're desperate for a win," Ryan said. "If you have goals to make the playoffs, then you have no choice. We have to win. There's no tomorrow."

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