One-time rivals Davis and Keenum team up as backup QBs in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS — The Rams’ latest addition at quarterback has a lot in common with the player he’ll be challenging for a backup spot.
Coach Jeff Fisher said his staff spent several hours evaluating tape before deciding to add Case Keenum, who got a call from St. Louis at about 3 p.m. Monday. He’s eager to learn a new system and play football outside of Houston for the first time since he was a high school star in Abilene, Texas.
"It hasn’t really set in yet, just trying to stay at it, get the grind going, just continue to work," Keenum said after his second practice Wednesday. "But I’m excited to be in a new place, be outside of Texas, get out of my comfort zone and grow a little bit.
He’ll be fighting for reps alongside an old friend and opponent in Austin Davis, the backup to starter Shaun Hill since Sam Bradford went down with a season-ending knee injury less than two weeks ago. Davis walked on at Southern Miss, where he started four seasons after redshirting his freshman year.
A year after Keenum began his assault on Conference USA defenses at Houston, Davis began doing the same at Southern Miss. The two would throw for nearly 28,000 yards over those four seasons, even though Davis missed the second half of 2009 with a broken foot and Keenum tore his ACL just two games into the 2010 season.
Keenum set NCAA passing records for yards and touchdowns while Davis broke more than 15 of Brett Favre’s records at Southern Miss, but both went undrafted in 2012. Davis earned a roster spot first with the Rams, although he was cut in 2013 and spent the year with the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad.
Keenum stayed in Houston and spent 2012 on the Texans’ practice squad before catching his first big break last season. After an injury to Matt Schaub, then-coach Gary Kubiak moved Keenum from third on the depth chart to starter, a role he kept for eight games.
"Any time you play in this league it’s a priceless experience," Keenum said. "I use what I learned every day."
The Texans went 0-8, but Fisher said he still saw enough positives to bring in the 6-foot-1 quarterback as either the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback behind Hill. But Fisher has seen plenty of good things as well from Davis, who said he’s gotten comfortable after three training camps in Earth City.
Davis and Hill said they don’t have much time to tutor Keenum this week while they prepare for Sunday’s season opener against the Vikings. It’s no secret the expectations have been raised for Davis now that he’s just one injury away from playing in his first NFL game.
"I feel like I’ve got to be ready to roll, and I will be," Davis said. "I did enough to make the football team and be the No. 2 quarterback, so that’s the biggest thing. And I’ve just got to be ready to play."
Of course, the two quarterbacks still have time to talk during drills, and Davis said Keenum has been asking plenty of questions. But one topic the two quarterbacks both indicated won’t come up in conversation is their lone meeting in college, when Davis threw for four touchdowns in a stunning 49-28 upset in the 2011 Conference USA championship, ending Keenum’s dreams of an unbeaten season and BCS bowl in his final home game.
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