Clemens earns his way with Rams ..
By Jim Thomas
With the NFL regular season upon us, backup quarterback Kellen Clemens should quickly fade into the background. But the fact that he’s even in the background — and not Austin Davis — was one of the surprises of Rams training camp and preseason.
Fade back to February at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. It was there that coach Jeff Fisher told the assembled media that even if the Rams re-signed Clemens, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the time, that Davis probably would be the Rams’ No. 2 quarterback in 2013.
“I’d heard about the comments,” Clemens recalled. “I wasn’t any different than anybody else when it came to thinking about Austin and his potential that he had shown the previous year. So I understood their thought process. I’ve been around the business long enough to understand how it works.”
All well and good, but did Fisher’s remarks at the Combine make him nervous?
“It can’t make you nervous; I wasn’t even on the team at the time,” Clemens said, laughing.
That didn’t happen until he re-signed shortly before the draft. Once he signed, Clemens headed to Fisher’s office before the start of the spring practice period to get the lay of the land.
“I said, ‘What are your expectations of me as an individual and what is my role, so I can still be here and still help this football team?’ ” Clemens said. “He laid it out pretty clear for me. Fortunately, Fish is a guy that you can come in, have a man-to-man conversation with. He’s gonna shoot you straight.”
All in all, it was an interesting preseason for Clemens, 30, who played at Oregon and is from Burns, Ore. He played well in the preseason opener against Cleveland, yet was scalded for his play by erratic Browns television analyst Bernie Kosar even before Clemens got in the game.
The story got some national attention and Kosar ended up leaving a phone message of apology for Fisher. The following week against Green Bay, it was a good thing Kosar didn’t work that game because Clemens completed only two of 11 passes for 27 yards, with two interceptions. That added up to a 0.0 passer rating.
The following week in Denver, Clemens threw what would have been a game-tying touchdown pass to Zach Potter with 1 minute 56 seconds left in the game. But being the preseason, the Rams went for two and Brian Quick couldn’t quite hold onto the 2-point conversion pass from Clemens in what became a 27-26 loss.
Even so, the preseason finale seemingly looked as a make or break night for Clemens. Did he go into the game thinking he had to play well — perhaps even very well — to make the roster?
“I don’t approach it like that,” Clemens said. “I’m in year eight right now, so any opportunity to play is an opportunity to play the game that I love playing. That’s really as far as my mindset goes.”
With Sam Bradford held out of the Ravens’ game by Fisher, Clemens got the start and played almost all the first half. The Rams moved the ball as well as they had all preseason, with Clemens completing 13 of 18 passes for 188 yards and a 105.8 passer rating. Penalties nullified a couple of other completions otherwise he would’ve had well over 200 yards passing.
Whether Clemens approached it that way or not, it may have been a job-saving performance.
“We take everything into consideration,” Fisher said. “His rough night in Green Bay, he played a little bit later (in the game), didn’t have as great a supporting cast. And Green Bay was doing a lot of exotic pressures. He was under siege.”
That wasn’t the case against Baltimore.
“He had protection, which he would if he’s going to be in the game with the starters,” Fisher said. “I thought he executed and did a nice job.”
After that game, Fisher mentioned that Clemens had broken his nose, and then joked that it might ruin his post-football modeling career. Clemens said Wednesday that he doesn’t think it was broken.
“I had a bloody nose on the left side (after absorbing a hit),” Clemens said. “And some of the blood I think was coming from under the left side of my lip. Let’s be honest, any modifications would be an improvement anyway.”
So here he is, back in St. Louis. This makes parts of three seasons that he has been with the Rams, joining the team in progress in 2011 during Steve Spagnuolo’s final season as head coach, and being on the roster for 15 of 16 games in 2012.
“Having a job is never a bad thing — never a bad thing,” Clemens said. “This is my favorite organization to be a part of, from the top down. It’s just a great place to come to work. So having a job is great. Having a job here is ideal.”
It’s the first time in his career where Clemens has been part of an NFL roster that kept only two quarterbacks. Despite speculation that Davis might be signed to the practice squad, he wasn’t, and it’s just Bradford and Clemens. During a couple of Clemens’ five seasons with the New York Jets, they kept as many as five QBs.
After missing Sunday’s practice because of the death of his grandmother, Clemens was back at it Wednesday. With no third quarterback, it meant Clemens had to do all the throws for the scout team.
“It was a long day,” Clemens said. “Lots of throws. But it beats the alternative.”
Re: Clemens earns his way with Rams ..
Re: Clemens earns his way with Rams ..
Well Clemons says some cool things... and is a down to earth guy willing to play 2nd fiddle, but Austin Davis really did seem to regress. I don't think Clemons got any better.
Guaranteed, there's some wildcat formations available for in case Bradford gets hurt and they're down to just Clemons or if both of them get hurt. I actually wonder if they've got Hekker or someone else to learn some basic install at qb just in case that scenario happens.