Rams still searching for right man to back up Bradford

Rams' preseason performance thus far emphasizes need for backup QB

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Shuffling players up and down a depth chart is great when the movement is fueled by a backup who raises the bar.

But this is far from that.

So far the jostling between Kellen Clemens and Austin Davis for the chance to hold Sam Bradford's clipboard has seemed to be more about who underperforms less.

"We'll go back to Austin this week as a two," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday afternoon. "Kellen will be a three. We will continue to evaluate."

Yes, it is early. And yes, most every NFL team is up creek without a paddle if its starting quarterback goes down. But through two preseason losses, the Rams have shown they might have a big hole in their boat if Bradford has to miss any meaningful playing time in 2013.

Fisher has followed through on his plan to rotate Clemens and Davis between the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterback positions during the preseason. Neither have seized the opportunity by the throat.

A week after Fisher called out Cleveland quarterback-turned-color commentator Bernie Kosar for ripping Clemens during an on-air broadcast, Clemens did little to prove Kosar's over-the-top criticism wrong. In fact, Clemens played better the night Kosar crossed the line. He completed 6-of-13 passes (46.2 percent) for 116 yards against the Browns. He got picked off twice, but tossed a touchdown to receiver Raymond Radway when a coverage broke down.

No such highlight was available Saturday when Clemens got his shot as the No. 2. He completed 2-of-11 passes (18.2 percent) for 27 yards. He threw two picks. One was tipped by John Jolly, a 320-pound defensive tackle. The other Jolly intercepted himself. His passer rating for the game was zero.

The veteran's early struggles have likely opened the door wide for Davis, who held the third-string job in 2012 after he went undrafted out of Southern Mississippi.  Yet Davis is merely ahead on points despite finding himself in position to land knockout blows.

He completed 19-of-27 passes for 96 yards (56.3 percent) as the No. 2 at Cleveland. That accuracy took a hit Saturday, when he completed just 7-of-19 (46.7 percent) for 114 yards as the No. 3. He has avoided throwing an interception, however, and he threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nick Johnson with less than a minute left in Saturday's game.

On Sunday, Fisher said his backup quarterbacks might have been a bit unprepared for some of the advanced looks the Green Bay defense showed.

"They were under siege and under fire and got thumped a little bit yesterday, which you don’t want to have happen," Fisher said.

A scarier thought is what might happen if Bradford gets thumped.

Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.

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