Quarterback Case Keenum ready for his moment with St. Louis
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Approaching the logo backdrop used for appearances by coach Jeff Fisher and the starting quarterback, Case Keenum jokingly spelled his last name for reporters and asked where he should stand.
If he can put that same touch on his passes, it’ll be a major plus for the Rams.
The 27-year-old Keenum will make his first start of the year on Sunday at Baltimore in place of struggling Nick Foles, who has thrown just one touchdown pass the last four games. He’s experienced both ends of that equation, starting the last two games for the Ravens last season after getting signed off the Rams practice squad.
“I’ve kind of been through it all. You have to be ready when you have a chance, and I’m ready,” Keenum said Tuesday. “I’m excited for my chance, I really am.”
Fisher cited Keenum’s mobility as a potential plus for the Rams (4-5), who have lost two straight. He approaches his 11th career start realizing his best asset is as a facilitator.
“I try to find the open guy, try to get the ball out of my hands and into the fast guys’ hands,” Keenum said. “That tends to work better when I’m not holding it.”
It’s sound strategy considering he’ll be working behind a makeshift line. Rookie guard Jamon Brown (broken leg) is the third offensive lineman to be placed on season-ending injured reserve, joining guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder) and tackle Darrell Williams (wrist).
Keenum has been around so long, the Rams shouldn’t have to limit the playbook this week. Fisher said there will be “minor adjustments” accounting for the players’ preference.
“There’s nothing we have to scale down,” Fisher said. “It’s all good.”
Foles, signed to a two-year deal with $13.8 million guaranteed before the preseason, said it was a surprise to get benched. He also was diplomatic.
“Your role changes in less than 24 hours. There’s definitely emotions that come with it because you’re used to being out there,” Foles said. “At the same time, I’m a team-first guy.”
Keenum had high praise for Foles’ speech the night before Sunday’s 37-13 loss at home, calling it “one of the best I’ve ever heard.” It did not translate to the field. Foles was 17 for 36 for 200 yards and was off-target most of the day, overthrowing receivers on several occasions, and Keenum made his season debut in a mop-up role.
Fisher said Foles took the demotion as well as could be expected and reiterated that it wasn’t all the quarterback’s fault, but that it was time for a change. Foles was the Rams’ big offseason acquisition in a quarterback swap with the Eagles for Sam Bradford.
“That was a hard day, a really hard day for him, but he’s handling it with class,” Fisher said. “I don’t expect him to like it, but he’s a pro and he’s still our captain, our offensive captain.”
After getting the news, Keenum said Foles was the first person he talked to.
“Nobody cares more about this team, loves the guys on the this team, respects the guys on this team,” Keenum said. “One of the best guys I know.”
The Rams added two interior linemen to add depth, signing Brian Folkerts off the practice squad to the roster and claiming Eric Kush off waivers after he’d been released by Houston. Kush likely will practice for the first time on Wednesday. Defensive end Gerald Rivers was released off the practice squad.
Keenum was signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after setting an NCAA career record for yardage at Houston. The Rams got him back from the Texans for a seventh-round draft pick.