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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Too Early To Call Race As Brock Berlin, Keith Null Battle

    Too early to call race as Brock Berlin, Keith Null battle

    08/27/2009

    CINCINNATI — Brock Berlin has been at this now for five preseasons, striding that fine line every August between the life of an NFL quarterback and the unemployment line.

    For all those two-a-days spent looking up on the depth chart and those cutdown days hoping the phone doesn't ring, he has only two regular-season games and 31 regular-season passes to show for it.

    Berlin's one true moment on center stage came two years ago in Paul Brown Stadium, where the Rams play the Cincinnati Bengals tonight in their third preseason game of 2009. On Dec. 12, 2007, Berlin made his NFL debut and one and only NFL start for the Rams.

    The results weren't overwhelming, but they weren't disastrous. Especially considering Berlin had been on the active roster less than two weeks before his start and had exactly one practice day with the first-team offense before kickoff.

    With both Marc Bulger (concussion) and Gus Frerotte (shoulder) sidelined by injury, Berlin completed 17 of 28 passes for 153 yards and an interception that day in a 19-10 loss to the Bengals. The Rams' only touchdown came on an interception return by cornerback Fakhir Brown.

    "It'll be neat to go back and play there," Berlin said. "Really, it's just another preseason game but obviously, it's the first place I've started. Maybe it'll be a little better weather this time."

    That's a certainty, considering it was 38 degrees and rainy at kickoff in '07.

    This August, nothing has changed about

    Berlin's job status. Once again he's fighting for a roster spot. This time the competition for the No. 3 job comes from Keith Null, a sixth-round draft pick from West Texas A&M.

    "You really don't have time to worry — I've always said that," Berlin said. "I've been in this position every year. You just go out and you play and you handle your business, and at the end of the day, you let things fall the way that they will."

    Null might have an edge because he was brought in by the current regime. Berlin, whose only other regular-season passes (three) came off the bench last season against Chicago, is a holdover from the Scott Linehan era.

    But Berlin, 28, isn't making it easy on Null. He completed five of eight passes for 71 yards and a 130.7 passer rating last Friday against Atlanta. He accounted for the Rams' only touchdown on a 20-yard pass to Derek Stanley in the third quarter.

    A week earlier against the New York Jets, Berlin's night ended early when he was brought down on a questionable hit by Jets defensive end Zach Potter and left the game with a sore knee.

    Null replaced Berlin and made the most of the opportunity, rifling a game-winning TD pass to Sean Walker midway through the final quarter. Berlin responded by strapping on a knee brace and getting right back to work last week.

    Null had a chance for more fourth-quarter heroics in Game 2 against the Falcons, but a potential game-tying TD drive ended with an interception in the end zone in the final minute of play. Once again, the intended receiver was Walker.

    "They brought some pressure, and I didn't have a lot of time," Null said. "I probably should've hit another read, but I just tried to take a shot at the end zone and get a score."

    Sensing blitz, Null made a pre-snap read at the line of scrimmage, deciding to throw it to Walker before the ball was even snapped. Trouble was, Walker was bumped off his route by a defender. Another Rams receiver, Nate Jones, was open on an underneath route but Null never looked his way.

    Nonetheless, Rams coaches have been impressed with Null's moxie. Despite the interception, at least Null drove the Rams into position to tie the game (or win on a 2-point conversion) in the 20-13 loss.

    "Oh, gosh," Null said. "The last two weeks, I've been right in the action having to go down and score. It's great work as a rookie to go in. ... You've got to love to have the ball in your hands at the end of the game, to try and make something happen."

    As coach Steve Spagnuolo sees it, the race for No. 3 remains too close to call.

    "It's a continued battle," Spagnuolo said. "We've got some time here still, so we'll see."

    Tonight against Cincinnati, Berlin and Null should have most or all of the second half to themselves once starter Kyle Boller is done for the evening.

    Berlin feels he's a better quarterback than he was in December 2007. He seems more accurate and more comfortable in the pocket.

    "The more reps you get, the more you're around, the more mature you become as a quarterback," Berlin said. "I've definitely learned a lot. I've been around a guy like Marc Bulger and learned from him."

    But now, he's got the young gun in Null, 23, to contend with.

    "It's nothing against the person," Null said. "We actually both get along real well. So we just come out, we both compete, and may the best man win. I'm sure he feels the exact same way."


  2. #2
    cfh128's Avatar
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    Re: Too Early To Call Race As Brock Berlin, Keith Null Battle

    I have to imagine Null wins this spot. One word: UPSIDE

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    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Too Early To Call Race As Brock Berlin, Keith Null Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by cfh128 View Post
    I have to imagine Null wins this spot. One word: UPSIDE
    I was thinking the same thing. I think we have seen the best of Berlin.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Too Early To Call Race As Brock Berlin, Keith Null Battle

    I really like Null and and hoping his upside an potential come to full force some day. Everytime i hear about him its exciting. i know its way way to early to know if he;ll become a starter one day, but i am definatly pulling for him hard and hope he gets th #3 spot and wors his way to #1. he has shown more so far ten being a 7th round pick.


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    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Too Early To Call Race As Brock Berlin, Keith Null Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    I was thinking the same thing. I think we have seen the best of Berlin.
    If what we've seen so far is in fact the best of Berlin? The decision is very easy. Bye bye Brock.

    I like Bulger, Boller and Null a whole heck of alot better anyway.

    GO RAMS!

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