Lots of OTA reps, closer to home -- what's not to like for Hill in the STL?
As long as Sam Bradford gets and stays healthy, Shaun Hill probably won't work up much of a sweat on Sundays this fall. But there are lots of reasons the veteran quarterback is happy to be a Ram.
Shaun Hill (14) is learning the Rams' offense under the watchful eye of starter Sam Bradford.
Jeff Roberson / AP
By Nate Latsch
ST. LOUIS -- Moving closer to home often is among the factors in a relocation, and that was the case with free-agent quarterback Shaun Hill. But there was more to it than that.
"A lot of things," Hill told FOXSportsMidwest.com on Tuesday.
"My wife and I just had our first kid, so being close to home was really a nice part of it," said Hill, who grew up in Kansas, lives near the Lake of the Ozarks and signed with the Rams in March. "But also, you just see how this organization is being built and you can see which direction they are going.
"Coach (Jeff) Fisher is a guy I've always respected throughout my career. There were really a lot of things that went into it. (Quarterbacks coach) Frank Cignetti I've played for before (in 2007, with the 49ers) and really enjoyed my time with him. There were a lot of influences in it."
We'll forgive the new backup quarterback for not mentioning toasted ravioli as one of the factors in his decision-making process.
But the marriage between Hill and the St. Louis Rams looks like a good fit for both parties.
The Rams offered Hill, 34, a fresh start after four years in Detroit, where he played in just four games the past three seasons. And Hill, who spent four seasons in San Francisco and four in Minnesota before moving to Detroit, gives the Rams an experienced quarterback behind Sam Bradford following the offseason departure of Kellen Clemens to San Diego.
Clemens started nine games in 2013 after Bradford went down with a season-ending knee injury and guided the Rams to a 4-5 record.
Hill represents a solid upgrade over Clemens.
In 34 career games over eight seasons (he did not see the field in four other seasons), Hill has completed 61.9 percent of his passes, thrown 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions and compiled a quarterback rating of 85.9. In 26 games as a starter, he is 13-13 with a 61.3 completion percentage, 37 touchdowns against 22 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 84.3.
"Shaun is very smart," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday. "He's got a lot of experience. Most of the experience comes in the preseason, but he's a settling factor.
"He's a lot like Kellen (Clemens). He's going to know what to do. He doesn't necessarily need a lot of reps. He understands offenses, understands defenses and can push the ball down the field."
Fisher went on to say he likes Hill's arm strength, height, vision and decision making. "He's still got some mobility left," Fisher added.
With Bradford still recovering from knee surgery and sitting out every other OTA session, Hill and the Rams' other two quarterbacks, Austin Davis and rookie Garrett Gilbert, have taken plenty of OTA reps.
Those extra reps have been significant for Hill, who is learning a new offensive system for the first time in several seasons.
"This is the first time in my career that I've come in to an established system that everybody else knows and I'm catching up," Hill said. "All the other new systems that have been installed throughout my career, it was everybody's first year just like it was mine. This is a new experience for me and that's why OTAs are so important this year, because by the time you hit the ground running in training camp you want to have it all down pat."
Hill has enjoyed working with a new group of offensive skill position players. No, there's no Calvin Johnson in St. Louis. But the Rams' young arsenal of offensive playmakers has great potential.
"It's been good," Hill said. "A lot of weapons. A lot of young guys with a lot of energy. It's fun. It's been a fun experience so far."
Hill has also enjoyed getting to know Bradford, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick who is heading into a critical fifth season. You can count Hill among those who think the former Heisman Trophy winner will have a good season in 2014.
"I've been very, very impressed with Sam, and obviously, it's just been in a limited capacity at this point," Hill said. "But I've been very, very impressed with him. He's a bright guy and he's got a ton of ability. We've got some guys around him now. I think it's going to be a good year for Sam."
Of course, if Bradford can stay healthy this season, Hill likely won't see much, if any, time on the field, similar to his final three seasons in Detroit as Matthew Stafford's backup.
But Hill has been around long enough to have perspective on his career. That's another reason he chose to sign with St. Louis.
"This is a great opportunity," he said. "Anytime you get invited to play for an NFL team, it's a great opportunity, and particularly for me. This is kind of close to home for me, so this has just been a great blessing."