JavaScript must be enabled to use this chat software. Who's No. 3?: Backup quarterbacks battle

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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Who's No. 3?: Backup quarterbacks battle

    By Jim Thomas
    Monday, Aug. 04 2008

    MEQUON, WIS. Scott Linehan's plan was to carry only two quarterbacks through
    the 2007 season, freeing up a roster spot for a backup at another position.

    But by early December, he realized the error of his ways, thanks to injuries to
    Marc Bulger and backup Gus Frerotte. Brock Berlin spent the last five games of
    the regular season as the No. 3 quarterback and began training camp this season
    battling Bruce Gradkowski for the No. 3 job.

    Linehan plans to keep three QBs from the get-go this season, and Saturday's
    team scrimmage at Concordia University Wisconsin was merely the first measuring
    post in the sorting process between Berlin and Gradkowski.

    "You can see their experience," Linehan said following the scrimmage. "Both of
    them had very good demeanor in the huddle."

    Berlin, 27, is trying to make an NFL opening-day roster for the first time
    since finishing the 2004 college season with the Miami Hurricanes. During that
    time, he has spent time on either the offseason, preseason, regular season, or
    practice squads of Miami, Dallas and St. Louis. He also had a spring 2006 stint
    with the Hamburg Sea Devils of the now-defunct NFL Europe.

    But his only NFL regular-season appearance was last Dec. 9, when he became the
    14th quarterback in "St. Louis" Rams history to start a game. He completed 17
    of 28 passes for 153 yards with one interception in a 19-10 loss at Cincinnati.

    Gradkowski, 25, was a sixth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2006 out of
    Toledo. He started 11 games for the Buccaneers as a rookie and had 17 games and
    352 passes in NFL regular-season competition when waived by the Buccaneers two
    months ago.

    Throwing to a hodge-podge of receivers Saturday, neither quarterback seemed to
    help or hurt his cause.

    "It's their first go-round," Linehan said. "They don't know which group's in
    there, but they're having fun doing it. It's going to be a heck of a battle."

    It's a battle that will only intensify in the coming weeks, with the start of
    the exhibition schedule Saturday at Tennessee. Berlin has looked more
    comfortable on the practice field in Wisconsin and more accurate than
    Gradkowski so far in camp.

    "I feel good. I really do," said Berlin, who spent the first 11 games of '07 on
    the Rams' practice squad.. "I think having last year, too, under my belt. And
    getting some experience at playing. And having this offseason to get through
    this offense ... (helps)."

    Gradkowski, who didn't join the Rams until the last week of OTAs (organized
    team activities) in June, has been playing catch-up. He basically missed the
    entire initial installation of new offensive coordinator Al Saunders' scheme.

    "I'm starting to get the hang of it," said Gradkowski, who was in a different
    scheme a West Coast system in Tampa. "It's great to work with two veterans
    like Marc (Bulger) and Trent (Green), who are so accurate."

    Accuracy was one of Gradkowski's hallmarks at Toledo. He finished his college
    career with the highest completion percentage in NCAA Division I-A history
    (68.2). In the early days of camp, Gradkowski appeared to struggle some with
    his accuracy but was sharper in the scrimmage, completing eight of 12 passes,
    including a touchdown to Keenan Burton.

    "I'm going to get more comfortable with the system," Gradkowski said.

    But so should Berlin.

    "It's definitely a lot of volume in this offense, but we create a lot of
    mismatches," said Berlin, who completed seven of 13 in the scrimmage. "I've
    enjoyed learning it. I feel like I'm picking it up more and more each day."

    One advantage that Gradkowski has over Berlin, as well as Bulger and Green, is
    his scrambling ability. During the scrimmage, Gradkowski used his running
    ability on several occasions to get out of trouble. Even though quarterbacks
    were off-limits for hitting or tackling Saturday, one of his scrambles might
    have been a TD run in live action.

    "It's part of my game," said Gradkowski, who had 14 rushing TDs and 1,018 yards
    rushing in college. "If something opens up, I like to use my legs to the best
    of my ability."

    Gradkowski, like Berlin, has four weeks left to show his ability to Rams
    coaches before the final cutdown day.

  2. #2
    moloch41 Guest

    Re: Who's No. 3?: Backup quarterbacks battle

    The question is which QB can throw the "one yard hitch and go route" the best...oh wait, Linehan isn't calling the offense anymore- nevermind.

  3. #3
    shower beers's Avatar
    shower beers is offline Registered User
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    Re: Who's No. 3?: Backup quarterbacks battle

    If I had to pick one...I'd pick Gradkowski, based on nothing at all. Maybe his last name. Who knows.

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