No time for Tebow in STL: Hill ready to roll as Rams' No. 1 QB
AUG 25, 2014 9:42p ET
ST. LOUIS -- It didn't take long for virtually everyone to chime in with an opinion on who should replace injured Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, including a former starter looking for a job.
But despite rumors that calls were already being made to find someone else, coach Jeff Fisher remained firm that Shaun Hill will be the man Week 1 against Minnesota after Monday's practice. The veteran's knowledge of the offense and leadership abilities made him an easy choice over any potential suitors.
"What I like is, 'According to sources close to the situation we're...' I love that," Fisher said. "No, we have not had any conversations with anybody. There's a lot of players out there that are under contract, and so you can't discuss those things, but we've not had anybody."
That might come as a disappointment for former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who tweeted "Would love a call from the Rams!" at about 9 a.m. Monday morning. Subsequent retweeting of a few tongue-in-cheek messages from supporters showed the 36-year-old may not have been totally serious himself, which is probably a good attitude for a guy who went 39-37 as a starter and hasn't thrown a pass in the NFL since 2010.
Twitter also gave notorious contrarian and highly successful Internet troll Skip Bayless of ESPN's "First Take" a platform to helpfully suggest Tim Tebow, drawing more than 2,500 retweets to go along with plenty of hateful comments. However, a few more legitimate options might become available by this Saturday, when teams are required to make their final roster cuts to get down to 53 players.
None of that speculation seems to have bothered Hill, who learned about Bradford's injury at Sunday's team meeting. Hill also rebuffed the comparisons to the 1999 Super Bowl team led by backup Kurt Warner after Trent Green suffered a massive knee injury in the preseason.
"This is a totally different situation," Hill said. "This is the 2014 Rams team. We're going to go out and our attitude has not changed."
But it's hard to ignore some of the parallels, even if Hill had a much cooler summer job than Warner's work as a grocery store bagger. The Parsons, Kan., native said he worked as a teenager in packaging and shipping for a small operation called Jake's Fireworks in nearby Pittsburg, Kan., which now claims to be "the leading distributor of wholesale and retail fireworks in the United States."
The only fireworks Warner dealt with were on the field, where The Greatest Show on Turf proved nearly unstoppable with such weapons as Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Hill's young supporting cast falls well short of that pedigree, but he's confident the group will be able to put up enough points to win with an aggressive, talented defense.
"All the pieces are in place," Hill said. "I've been able to work with all those guys. I've definitely developed a rapport with those guys and continue to do so."
Fisher reiterated Monday that the offense won't change with a new quarterback under center, which means it will still be heavily reliant on the running game and tailback Zac Stacy. Wide receiver Tavon Austin doesn't expect the switch to be much of an adjustment, despite the pain he and his teammates feel for Bradford after his second ACL tear in less than a year.
"We definitely follow (Hill) now and this team, we're going to keep on moving forward," Austin said. "He knows all the right throws and he's smart."
Rams fans might have some not-so-fond memories of Hill from the best performance of his career, when he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Lions' 44-6 rout of St. Louis in October 2010. That snapped a four-game losing streak to open the season and preceded six consecutive losses that cost him his starting spot.
But Hill, who took over in Week 1 when Matthew Stafford suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, would get his redemption. He got back in the lineup and closed out 2010 by leading the Lions to wins over Miami and Minnesota.
The 34-year-old hasn't started since, and he's younger than only five of the NFL's 32 projected starting quarterbacks, including future Hall of Famers Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. The other two are Arizona's Carson Palmer and Tampa Bay's Josh McCown, who probably would be on the bench for at least half the teams in the league.
St. Louis doesn't need a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback to have a successful season, although it certainly wouldn't hurt. What this team does need is someone capable of confidently running the offense, making some big throws and providing leadership for all of its inexperienced skill players.
Fisher hasn't ruled out the possibility of picking up another option if a good one hits the waiver wire, so that's something to keep an eye on later this week. But it seems highly unlikely anyone would be good enough to unseat Hill before Sept. 7, when he'll finally get the opportunity he's been waiting for the last four years.
"I've always gone into every week, even if I was the backup, as if I was going to play," Hill said. "That's the only way I prepare. That's the only way I know how to do it."
You can follow Luke Thompson on Twitter @FS_LukeT or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.