Rams QB Keenum awaits another sizable test in Seattle
ST. LOUIS — Case Keenum has had a couple of nice starts for the St. Louis Rams, leading a revitalized offense to a pair of wins.
The new quarterback knows he’s got to keep building that resume.
"I’ve said it before, anytime you step on the field it’s a statement," Keenum said Tuesday after practice. "Experience is priceless; it’s about battling through the tough times and enjoying the good times."
Coach Jeff Fisher was measured in his praise of Keenum after the Rams (6-8) beat the Buccaneers 31-23 on Thursday night, noting that the degree of difficulty would go up this week at Seattle.
Keenum had a near-perfect passer rating of 158 against Tampa Bay, going 14 for 17 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. A week earlier, the statistics were more modest, but he led a victory over the Lions that snapped the team’s five-game losing streak.
The Rams have averaged 26 points the past two games after averaging 10.8 points during the skid, and lost at the finish at Baltimore in Keenum’s first start before missing two games with a concussion.
"This will be a big challenge for him; I mean, it’s not easy to go in there and play," Fisher said. "But he’s got the personality that I think it takes to go in there and be successful."
Keenum’s first career start was in Kansas City in 2013 when he was with Houston and this will be his first in Seattle. He believes those two cities have the loudest game day environments in the NFL.
In that start against the Chiefs, he was 15 for 25 for 271 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions but the Texans lost in the midst of a 2-14 season.
"We’re not going to really hear very much of anything," Keenum said. "I have an idea what it’s going to be like."
Both of the wins have come since the Rams changed offensive coordinators. It’s been a stomach-turning yet satisfying run for Rob Boras, calling plays for the first time since he was at UNLV in 2003.
"He’s cool as a fan," tight end Jared Cook said. "There’s nobody I’d rather play for."
Boras expects it’ll be tough on his insides again this week, especially after watching the Seattle defense on tape.
"The nerves crank back up, just start all over again," Boras said.
The Rams have benefited from continuity on the offensive line, with starters in place three consecutive weeks, with receivers who had no drops against the Buccaneers, and from a quarterback who’s been a lot more decisive than Nick Foles.
Rather than an overhauled game plan and new direction, Boras said Keenum did a good job processing information on a short week.
"He just believed what he saw," Boras said. "That’s what he kept telling himself: `I’m not going to overthink it, I’m going to see what I see and I’m going to believe it and let it go.’"
Players got the weekend off and many of them went to Miami to visit wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who is recovering from two gunshot wounds to the head. Tavon Austin, who made a highly productive receiving tandem with Bailey at West Virginia, led a group of "eight or nine players."
"I don’t know if he knew a lot of us were coming," Austin said. "It meant a lot to him, it put him in good spirits."
The team anticipates Bailey, shot during Thanksgiving week, will be released from the hospital soon. Players said they didn’t get into that during the visit.
"I hope he’ll be able to continue his dream," said defensive end Eugene Sims, who made the trip. "But at the same time, life is more important."