BY BILL COATS Monday, August 30, 2010 12:05 am


Tempted as he might be to play the me-vs.-him game in his tussle with Keith Null for the Rams' No. 3 quarterback job, Thaddeus Lewis resists.

"I don't worry about things you can't control," Lewis explained. "And I can't control what Keith, Sam (Bradford) or A.J. (Feeley) is doing. I can only control what Thaddeus is doing."

And what Lewis, an undrafted rookie out of Duke, is doing is putting some heat on Null, the Rams' sixth-round draft pick a year ago who because of injuries wound up starting the final four games of the 2009 season.

"That's a good battle going on," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "We're going to need another game to let it play out. I thought Thad did a nice job to help himself" in the Rams' 36-35 victory at New England on Thursday.

Entering in the second half in relief of Bradford, the 6-foot, 219-pound Lewis directed a 15-play, 76-yard march that took 9 minutes, 19 seconds off the clock and culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Gibson.

Lewis hit on six of seven passes for 45 yards and also scrambled for a 9-yard gain during the drive, which extended the Rams' lead to 27-14.

After the Patriots rallied for a 28-27 lead, Lewis was intercepted by safety Brandon McGowan, who raced 38 yards to the Rams' 10-yard line. Three plays later, the Pats were in the end zone again and up 35-27.

But Lewis didn't waste any time feeling sorry for himself.

"Not at all. Playing this game for all these years at the quarterback position, things like that are going to happen," he said. "It's important how you respond to it. I had to pull myself together and pull the offense together and try to get another drive going."

On the ensuing possession, Lewis went four for four for 46 yards in an 11-play, 73-yard drive that trimmed the New England edge to 35-33.

"I felt like I bounced back and helped the team take it down and get another score," Lewis said. "I felt good about that, how I responded from the interception. You can't get down. You've got to have a short memory at this position."

Null earned some points, too, for running the 2-minute offense effectively on the game's last series. Josh Brown's 37-yard, last-play field goal won it for the Rams.

After three preseason games, Lewis has completed 16 of 20 passes for 166 yards, with one interception, one touchdown and a passer-rating of 97.1. Null is 10 of 27 for 101 yards, with no TDs or interceptions, and a passer rating of 37.0.

Both Lewis and Null are expected to see significant action Thursday night, when the Rams close their preseason schedule against Baltimore at the Edward Jones Dome.

Despite the personal stakes, Lewis insisted that he wasn't heaping any extra significance on the game.

"I look at it as another opportunity," he said. "You've got to get better. Look at the mistakes you made the week before and make sure you don't make those same mistakes. …

"Every day it's a fight. I think I did some good things (at New England), and hopefully I did help myself. But you never know about these situations. You've just got to go out there and play to the best of your ability every time you get a chance."

Rams cut three

With the deadline approaching to trim the 80-man training camp rosters to 75, the Rams released cornerback Marcus Brown, guard Joe Gibbs and running back Jamie McCoy.

Wide receiver Donnie Avery, who suffered a torn ligament vs. the Patriots, will be placed on injured reserve, meaning one other cut must be made by Tuesday's deadline. Rosters must be cut to 53 by Saturday.

injury update

Safety Kevin Payne (knee) and wide receiver Jordan Kent (nausea) left practice early Sunday. Others still sidelined were Feeley (thumb), safety James Butler (knee), tight end Daniel Fells (knee), guard John Greco (chest), defensive ends James Hall (hip) and George Selvie (leg), and linebacker David Vobora (hamstring).

The knee injury that tackle Phil Trautwein sustained Tuesday at practice has been diagnosed as a torn ligament. He'll be sidelined six to eight weeks, Spagnuolo said, and could wind up on injured reserve.