Joe Flacco
Keenum will start for Rams against a familiar foe -- the Ravens
Joe Flacco

Keenum will start for Rams against a familiar foe -- the Ravens

Published Nov. 19, 2015 12:03 a.m. ET

Case Keenum toiled with the St. Louis Rams' practice squad for much of last year before getting his shot with Houston late in the season and leading a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in his first start.

Now he's back in St. Louis, and Baltimore again is the team standing in front of him as he takes over the starting job.

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Keenum replaces Nick Foles at quarterback for Sunday's road matchup against the Ravens and looks to help the Rams get back to .500 by avoiding a third straight defeat.


The Texans plucked Keenum off St. Louis' practice squad Dec. 15, then made him the starter for a 25-13 win over the Ravens six days later. He threw two touchdowns in a victory over Jacksonville the following week in his 10th career start, but Houston went a different direction this season and dealt him back to the Rams (4-5) for a seventh-round pick.

Keenum's familiarity with St. Louis' system made coach Jeff Fisher's decision to make a change much easier before facing Baltimore (2-7).

Foles finished 17 of 36 for 200 yards and an interception while overthrowing, underthrowing and flat out missing receivers during last week's 37-13 home loss to Chicago. Since being acquired from Philadelphia for Sam Bradford and signing a two-year deal with $13.8 million guaranteed in the offseason, Foles has a 56.6 completion percentage that ranks 28th and 75.9 rating that is 29th.

Fisher admitted that the offensive issues aren't solely Foles' fault, but he's giving Keenum a look nevertheless. Keenum will play behind an offensive line that further has been depleted, though, after rookie guard Jamon Brown fractured his leg against Chicago.

Brown joins fellow linemen Rodger Saffold (shoulder) and Darrell Williams (wrist) on injured reserve.

"I'm excited for my chance, I really am," Keenum said. "I'm excited to go out there and compete again. You don't get many chances to play in this league."

The running game still remains the Rams' priority, though. Todd Gurley ran three times for 20 yards on the opening drive that culminated with his 6-yard TD run against the Bears, but he got only nine more carries the rest of the way and finished with 45 yards.

The rookie didn't have fewer than 19 rushes in any of his previous five starts while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Gurley is expecting to see the ball more against a Ravens defense that ranks sixth in the league allowing an average of 3.79 yards per rush.

"It's definitely a change," Gurley said of the QB switch. "It kind of just popped up on us, but it's something that we've dealt with in the past -- whether it's vets or me from changing quarterbacks in college.

"We believe in Case. He's a good quarterback."

Keenum isn't putting much stock into having faced the Ravens in 2014, when they finished 10-6 and lost to New England in the divisional round of the playoffs.

A push for the postseason seems futile for this year's Baltimore squad that is the first in NFL history to have its first nine games decided by eight points or fewer. The Ravens suffered last week from an officiating error that should've resulted in a false start and 10-second runoff down the stretch for Jacksonville, which kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired for a 22-20 win.

Baltimore also committed a season-worst four turnovers, though. Joe Flacco tossed three touchdown passes but also threw a pair of interceptions.

"I don't know what our record is going to be at the end of the day, but we're going to keep fighting and we're going to give our best every single week," Flacco said. "We're going to come out of this thing on the other side together. That's the only way we know, and that's what we're going to do."

Chris Givens caught his first touchdown pass, and he'll have a little extra motivation to beat the Rams. St. Louis traded him to Baltimore on Oct. 3 after he slid down the depth chart and got only one target in three games.

Givens was in a starting role last week and caught a season-high four passes for 37 yards.

"It's going to be a little more intense," Givens said. "I feel like if I go out there and handle my business, then that will show them everything they need to see."

The Rams are hoping to get a key piece back, as defensive end Chris Long could play for the first time since fracturing a bone in his right knee against Green Bay on Oct. 11.


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