Boller illness delays Rams' QB decision

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

The St. Louis Rams have put off a decision on who's starting at quarterback this weekend, with Kyle Boller sent home due to illness and rookie Keith Null getting all the practice snaps.

There's enough going on without pondering that choice for the game against the Houston Texans.

The Rams (1-12) have openings at both guard spots, too, after temperamental Richie Incognito was released Tuesday and Jacob Bell was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a torn hamstring. A third starter on the line, center Jason Brown, was at home fighting a cold Wednesday.

Bell becomes the 11th Ram to land on injured reserve this season. Little wonder coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't want to talk about Incognito, cut loose after helmet-butting two opponents in a 47-7 loss at Tennessee last Sunday.

The rookie head coach lightly revised his statement from a day earlier - that the move was made in the best interests of the team and player - and tried to make that stand. He didn't open up much when the Incognito questions came anyway, beyond saying the move was not taken lightly.

``I didn't sleep on Sunday and took all day Monday,'' Spagnuolo said. ``None of those decisions are easy, and that one was particularly tough.''

But Spagnuolo declined to discuss the team's frustration level with Incognito, who frequently landed in trouble for playing long after the whistle and was benched for the second half on Sunday.

Leaning on a variation of his trademark phrase during a nightmarish season, Spagnuolo said, ``I'm not going down that road. I'm not going to do that.''

The Rams quickly gave away Incognito's jersey No. 68 to offensive tackle Ryan McKee, signed off waivers from the New York Jets.

When Brown returns to practice, he'll have lightly used backups John Greco on the right side in Incognito's old spot, and Mark Setterstrom on the left in place of Bell. Greco will be making his second career start, Setterstrom his second this season.

On Wednesday, though, Setterstrom had to fill in at center.

``Everybody's ready,'' Greco said. ``When that chance comes, you've got to take advantage of it.''

Null made his NFL debut last week, making a surprise start when Boller's thigh injury kept him on the bench. Spagnuolo expects to have a better idea Thursday of his quarterback situation. He seemed to lean toward the veteran Boller, saying he didn't think it was important for Null to quickly rid the taste of his error-prone debut.

``I'm hopeful in his career at some point he'll get to do that,'' Spagnuolo said. ``I don't think we have to force ourselves into that right now. We'll just see what happens.''

Null, who played at Division II West Texas A&M, said the game experience added to his comfort level running the team on Wednesday.

``I messed up on one call and I said, 'Hey, I did a lot better this week than I did last week,''' Null said. ``Everything was just a little bit smoother and a little bit better.''

He didn't mind the aches and pains that came the day after the game, either.

``It sort of reminded me of playing in college, having that soreness the next day that I haven't felt in a long time,'' Null said. ``It was actually good to feel a little soreness, but nothing too bad.''

Running back Steven Jackson missed his 10th straight practice with a lower back injury, giving him time to note on his Twitter account that he was getting a lot of Pro Bowl votes.

Spagnuolo was hopeful that Jackson might get on the field before Sunday to work on timing.

Jackson also lost 8 yards off what had already been a season-worst rushing total at Tennessee. The revised total, after what had been ruled a lateral pass was changed to a reception, was 39 yards on 18 carries.

share story