Green is money in the bank as the Rams' backup quarterback
Will turn 38 next month
BY STEVE KORTE
Quarterback Trent Green often gets reminded of how much things have changed since his first tour of duty with the St. Louis Rams.
"I'm one spot away from old locker, and two spots from my old number," said Green, who is wearing No. 12 for the Rams since his No. 10 was already taken by starting quarterback Marc Bulger. "That's an adjustment that I've had to make. Every time I hear somebody reference No. 10, I automatically turn around. That's been new for me, but it's been good to be back."
Green returns to the Rams seven years after being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for first- and fifth-round picks in the 2001 NFL Draft. He signed a three-year, $8.9 million contract with the Rams on March 10 to serve as the team's backup quarterback.
There are only three players -- Torry Holt, Leonard Little and Orlando Pace -- still with the team from Green's previous tenure with the Rams.
"In my mind, it has only been a few years, but you look at it on paper, it has been seven or eight years," Green said. "It has been some time, and with free agency the way it is and the coaching changes, there is generally some turnover. It is nice to be back with Torry and Leonard and Orlando."
Green and Bulger spent a few weeks together during the 2000 season. Bulger was on the Rams' practice squad.
"Marc and I were here for a few months," Green said. "We've known each other for quite some time."
The Rams are hoping Green can serve as a bridge for Bulger in learning the offense being installed under new offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
Green has worked under the same offensive system with Mike Martz in St. Louis and then with Saunders, who has added his wrinkles to it, in Kansas City.
"They both originated in this system," Rams coach Scott Linehan said of Green and Bulger. "What Trent can do is help Marc with the changes that Al has made since he was here the first time. There are a lot of nuances to what you do and how you adjust as a coach. He is preparing himself to play quarterback for us, but he's also somebody who can really help Marc with some of the things they did in Kansas City that are maybe a little different than what Marc is used to. That's a big reason why he is here, as well as bringing in a guy we know we can win with at the backup quarterback spot for sure."
Green, who will turn 38 on July 9, said he's adjusting to his role as a backup. He hasn't been a backup since the 2000 season when he started five games for injured starter Kurt Warner. Prior to that, the last time he wasn't the starter heading into a season was 1997 with the Washington Redskins.
"It's a little bit different," Green said. "It has been probably 10 years or so since I've had that role, and I'm trying to get acclimated to it. I also want to share my experiences with it as well. I know Marc has been in this offense, and he and I communicate a great deal. We're trying to talk as much as we can with Brock (Berlin) and trying to get the backs and the receivers and the linemen on the same page. I think it has been really good communication between all of us."
Green is a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2003 and 2005) who has had a passer rating of 100.0 or better in 33 career games.
However, Green has started only 13 games over the last two seasons with the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins due to concussions. Though he carries some risk due to his concussion history, the Rams feel that Green is worth the gamble due to his leadership abilities.
"Trent's leadership is outstanding," Holt said. "When guys out there on the field aren't doing things correctly, he is one of the first ones over there to put them in the right direction. Having him back in the building is a spark for us."
Green said he sees some similarities between the 2008 Rams, who are coming off a 3-13 season, and the 1999 Rams, which came off a disappointing season to go 14-2 and defeat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV.
"I think there are a lot of comparisons when you look at how the team in '98 was coming off a 4-12 season," Green said. "They changed offensive coordinators, they changed some faces and the next thing that happens is they win the Super Bowl. As good as we thought we could be that year, I don't think anybody could have predicted that type of success.
"I can see where people want to draw the comparisons to this year with Al coming back, bringing back the offense that was here with Mike during that 1999-2000 era. There is a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, but to put that type of pressure on this team ... we're all hoping that happens and that's what our goals is. Everybody's goal is to have that kind of success. You definitely feel a much better vibe around here."