Backup QB Boller aims to eliminate mistakes

If Kyle Boller is auditioning for a new deal with the St. Louis Rams, he has yet to impress.

The backup quarterback is getting extended playing opportunity, perhaps the rest of the season, given that Marc Bulger is on crutches with a fractured left shin bone. But Boller realizes the game-changing mistakes that have marred his play must be weeded out.

Boller threw two interceptions last week, including one on a tipped pass that was returned for the go-ahead touchdown in last weekend’s 27-17 loss to the Seahawks, and is responsible for seven turnovers in only 14 quarters. His other pick Sunday was in the end zone, negating a scoring opportunity.

“I wish a ball would pop 10 feet in the air and hit the guy in stride for a touchdown,” Boller said Wednesday. “That’s the way it goes. You have to protect the ball but I’m still going to go out there and try to make plays.”

Boller, who landed with a one-year free agent contract after sitting out 2008 with a shoulder injury in Baltimore, isn’t going to change. Despite the mounting mistakes, he said there’s no way he’ll go conservative this weekend at Chicago when he makes his second straight start.

“I’m not going to play scared, that’s when you do turn the ball over,” he said. “I don’t foresee that being a problem.”

The Rams (1-10) pretty much have to count on Boller improving, since rookie Keith Null is the only other quarterback on the roster. Coach Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t believe Null, a sixth-round pick, is ready and would just as soon he not play this season.

“I’m sure if you ask Kyle, certainly the second one, he’d like to have a better throw,” Spagnuolo said of the interceptions by Seattle. “I know Kyle would like to have both of them back.”

The coach has been able to say that a lot. Four of Boller’s turnovers have been returned for touchdowns, and two came in the red zone.

Of course, it’s not all the quarterback’s fault. The Rams have been inexperienced at wide receiver all season and the offensive line was minus three starters much of the game against Seattle. Boller was constantly on the run and was sacked four times, so he’s had to work through more than the usual soreness.

“Sometimes your best throws are when you get hit and you lay on the ground and hopefully they’re applauding when you play at home,” Boller said. “It was a little harder this week, definitely.”

Center Jason Brown is expected to make his 56th consecutive start, although he grudgingly missed the first practice of his career on Wednesday with a sprained right knee.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Brown said. “I did not want to miss this practice, not at all, but it’s all about doing the smart thing.”

Guard Richie Incognito also is expected back after missing four games with a sprained ligament in his right foot. Running back Steven Jackson missed practice Wednesday but could go on Thursday, although he’s likely to again be short of 100 percent.

Boller can’t worry about that stuff.

“You just keep fighting, that’s all you can do,” he said. “You try to be optimistic and still make it fun, and work. We’re pros, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

The team also said it will wait until tackle Jason Smith (concussion) feels better before administering another baseline test. Spagnuolo said the rookie, who has failed two tests, was still feeling symptoms. Fullback Mike Karney (neck) did not practice and could miss a second straight game.