What was perhaps the worst-kept secret in the Rams locker room became public knowledge on Thursday when the team officially re-signed quarterback Kellen Clemens to the active roster.
Clemens, who was released in the final round of cuts on Aug. 31, returned to a locker at the ContinuityX Training Center that was exactly the same as he left it when he departed. In fact, Clemens’ return was so imminent that the Rams’ equipment staff didn’t even bother to change the name above the locker.
“I had a strong hunch,” Clemens said. “I’ll leave it at that. At no point did I think that I wasn’t a part of the Rams organization, at least in my mind. I’m happy to be back in the flow of practicing and game planning and hopefully we can get our first win this week.
The only reason Clemens was let go in the first place was to make room for help on defense after injuries ravaged the interior of the defensive line.
"We got caught in a precarious injury scenario after the final preseason game," coach Jeff Fisher said. "Particularly with the defensive tackles. We fully intended on keeping all three quarterbacks and so we put Kellen out there just thinking hopefully he'd be available for us once we started. We are happy to have him back."
To make room for Clemens, the Rams let go of one of those previously injured defensive tackles, Darell Scott. Scott is a former fourth-round choice from the 2009 NFL Draft. His departure leaves just middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and cornerback Bradley Fletcher on the roster from that draft.
In bringing Clemens back, the Rams get a veteran with a vast knowledge of coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Clemens also pointed out another important reason he was brought back this week in preparation for Washington.
“The big thing we can take away here and I think one of the main reasons I’m back when I am is because of the speed that I have so that I can simulate Robert Griffin on the scout team,” Clemens said, a grin creeping across his face. “I think that’s the point that could get lost.”
On a more serious note, Clemens is expected to resume his role as the primary backup to starter Sam Bradford and help as a mentor to rookie Austin Davis.
In his week-plus away from the team, Clemens didn’t go too far. He has a home in St. Louis he shares with his family and said he took the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with them while following the Rams as much as he could.
Clemens didn’t have many opportunities to throw but did toss a Thomas the Train soft football around with his 3-year old son.
“You don’t get many opportunities like that to spend time with your family, especially in September so that’s what I did,” Clemens said. “I followed the team as closely as I could from a distance and just made sure that whenever they called to bring me back that I was ready to go.”
To that end, Clemens watched the Detroit game closely, making it a point to recognize and identify play calls and go over things in his head.
Because of his status as a vested veteran, releasing Clemens before week one means his contract for this season is not guaranteed. The Rams opted to keep Davis so they wouldn’t have to expose him to waivers.
At no point did Clemens question whether he was going to be back in the fold or even get upset about his release.
“I understand,” Clemens said. “There are business decisions that have to be made. That’s a part of this industry. So you roll with it as best you can.”