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  • Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/29/2009

    Perhaps enticed by the sight of the end zone barely 40 feet away, quarterback Kyle Boller was a little late on his slide. Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers made him pay with a hit so jarring it knocked Boller's helmet off his head.

    Rams running back Samkon Gado was immediately on the scene, telling Boller to stay down and take a minute to recover his thoughts. Boller would have none of it.

    "Oh, he's a tough kid," right guard Richie Incognito said. "He popped right up. He got right back in the huddle and he kept going. It didn't even faze him. I would've taken a second to shake that bad boy off; he took it right on the chin."

    Boller later conceded things might have been a little bit fuzzy for a few seconds. But you wouldn't have known it by the way he acted in the huddle.

    "He said, 'We're going to take this ball in the end zone right now,'" center Jason Brown said. "And that's exactly what we did."

    It took three plays to score, but you get the point. Boller showed the kind of bravado the big grunts up front love to see from their quarterback.

    "Of course," Brown said. "Not only do we like to set the tempo, but when we see that the skill position guys have just as much enthusiasm as we do, that is very encouraging."

    Boller's 8-yard scramble advanced the ball to the Cincinnati 12. After reuniting his helmet with his head, Boller completed a short pass to Laurent Robinson, then handed off to Gado for a short gain. Next came pay dirt: Boller tossed a shovel pass to Gado, totally fooling the Bengals' defense, with Gado scoring untouched from 2 yards out.

    The Rams had a 14-7 lead with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first quarter and never looked backed in what became a 24-21 triumph at Paul Brown Stadium.

    A few months from now, none of this may mean a thing. But that sequence, and Boller's play in general Thursday, showed his teammates that he can get it done.

    "I gained a lot of respect for him; a lot of respect for him," Gado said. "It was a pretty hard hit because I was right there. I saw it firsthand."

    The performance didn't go unnoticed by the Rams' coaching staff. Coach Steve Spagnuolo agreed with the suggestion that, if anything, the team now has more confidence in Boller's ability to lead the offense for a game or two — or more — should something happen to Marc Bulger in the regular season.

    "Yeah, I think he's kind of proven that," Spagnuolo said Friday. "I think the guys do rally around him. You know, he said it best. How did he say it? It's not his first rodeo. So he's been through it. That's important. I think that's a good thing to have."

    Boller has started 42 NFL games since being drafted No. 19 overall by Baltimore in 2003. But after missing the entire 2008 season with the Ravens following a preseason shoulder injury, he had some rust to knock off with the Rams, who signed him as a free agent in early April.

    Although well short of spectacular, Boller was efficient against the Bengals, completing 70 percent of his passes (14 of 20) for 96 yards, one TD and a 97.1 passer rating.

    "I'll take 70 percent every day of the week," Boller said.

    More important than the stats were the points. The first-team offense had not scored a touchdown this preseason until it got two TDs — both by Gado — Thursday night in the first quarter.

    "I think it gives us a lot of confidence to be able to put those drives together," Boller said. "We just need to make sure that we continue to do that. This is just the beginning. We still have a long ways to go. ..."

    In what looks to be a characteristic of the Rams' new West Coast scheme, most of Boller's passes were of the short and intermediate variety. Of his 14 completions, only three gained more than 8 yards, with a long one of 15 yards to tight end Randy McMichael. Boller spread the ball around, completing passes to nine difference receivers.

    "In this offense, definitely, everybody's going to play a role in it," Boller said. "And to be able to mix the ball around to the tight ends, running backs, receivers really kind of keeps the defense on edge."

    Before Thursday, the Rams had converted only one of five red zone trips into touchdowns. But they went two for two with Boller at QB against Cincinnati. Another problem had been third down conversions — the Rams had a 24 percent conversion rate (six for 25) in their first two preseason contests. But they were 50 percent (four for eight) on third down when Boller and the first unit were on the field Thursday.

    Spagnuolo also liked Boller's decision-making — well, most of it — when it came to his two scrambles for 16 yards. Sliding earlier is advisable.

    "Yeah, that might be a wise thing," Spagnuolo said, smiling.

  • #2
    Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

    Boller took charge of the offense while he was in there. That was a pleasant surprise on Thursday night. The line opening holes and keeping Boller upright was nice also.

    Maineram -

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

      he showed that if needed during the season he can come in and hold down the fort until Bulger comes back,also if I am not mistaken he only has a 1 year deal so he is auditioning for next season hoping another team may give him a chance to start again. in order to do this he needs to take advantage of any playing time he gets because he may not get much once the season starts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

        I have confidence in Boller now.

        I think the things he did thursday night showed he's ready to take the ropes if Bulger goes down.

        Anyone thinking wildcat formations? hahahahhaha jk jk jk jk

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

          Although well short of spectacular, Boller was efficient against the Bengals, completing 70 percent of his passes (14 of 20) for 96 yards, one TD and a 97.1 passer rating.
          97.1 passer rating, even with our line not giving him all day. It's fascinating how even Kyle Boller can some how play well behind this line but Bulger continually, can't. I'm going to wait, but I'm concerned Bulgers going to get in there and the offense is going to suddenly fall apart again and thus the qb controversy ensues.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

            Originally posted by btimsah View Post
            97.1 passer rating, even with our line not giving him all day. It's fascinating how even Kyle Boller can some how play well behind this line but Bulger continually, can't. I'm going to wait, but I'm concerned Bulgers going to get in there and the offense is going to suddenly fall apart again and thus the qb controversy ensues.
            It's not hard to put up solid numbers when your pre-season passing gameplan consists of nearly all quick outs, slants, and curls with minimal downfield passing and few long developing pass plays that leave you exposed in the pocket.

            Boller was efficient but I didn't find him particularly impressive, nor do I agree that it was fascinating that he played well within that situation. He wasn't really called upon to do much, as evident by the lack of downfield passing. I didn't see him do anything that I don't think Bulger could have done in the same situation.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

              Liked the poise that Boller displayed againsts te Bengals. This QB IS battle test, though it was only Cincinnati, Kyle engineered a couple of nice long drives for scores. I think the Rams have found their backup quarterback. What a difference a week makes after Bollers' subpar performance against Atlanta.
              If Bulger can't go in Seattle, now I won't panic......GO SEE KYLE!
              sigpic

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                Well, remember that Pats game two years ago?

                Boller is a good QB when he wants to be. He just gets too ansy or something, I don't know.
                Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                  Originally posted by Nick View Post
                  It's not hard to put up solid numbers when your pre-season passing gameplan consists of nearly all quick outs, slants, and curls with minimal downfield passing and few long developing pass plays that leave you exposed in the pocket.

                  Boller was efficient but I didn't find him particularly impressive, nor do I agree that it was fascinating that he played well within that situation. He wasn't really called upon to do much, as evident by the lack of downfield passing. I didn't see him do anything that I don't think Bulger could have done in the same situation.

                  I think you are being a bit tough on him. First of all, quick outs, slants and curls might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it's a very intelligent approach given the unproven offensive line. This is the type of offensive game planning you're going to see from Steve Spagnuolo; a close-to-the-vest approach which puts a premium on conservative, mistake-free football. It is going to be a big departure from the days when Warner was throwing 48 times a game and Holt and Bruce were streaking downfield all day. As the O-line gels and gets better( as surely we all hope it will), it will create more opportunities for variety in the play calling.

                  Boller is a backup for a reason. He is not a guy who has shown he can wow you with his quarterbacking for the duration of a season. Bulger, even with his struggles, is the better player. But you can do a lot worse than Kyle Boller as your backup.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                    Originally posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
                    IBoller is a backup for a reason. He is not a guy who has shown he can wow you with his quarterbacking for the duration of a season. Bulger, even with his struggles, is the better player. But you can do a lot worse than Kyle Boller as your backup.
                    I agree. Not only did Boller prove his mettle with his play against Cincy, he showed the ability to bounce back after two less than stellar performances. For that I give him credit.

                    I also agree with Nick that what he did was nothing spectacular. The conditions on Thursday were conducive to Boller being able to manage the game effectively. As long as he is afforded those "manageable" situations, he should be fine. If he's forced to the forefront however, more often than not he won't have the luxury of simply handing the ball off and throwing a few short passes. It's the game scenarios where he'd be under duress and have to make something happen under pressure that I'm not sure about.

                    That said, you make a good point that the Rams could do a lot worse than Boller as their backup.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                      Originally posted by Nick View Post
                      It's not hard to put up solid numbers when your pre-season passing gameplan consists of nearly all quick outs, slants, and curls with minimal downfield passing and few long developing pass plays that leave you exposed in the pocket.
                      Agreed - there was minimal downfield passing .. even so there often was good pressure on Kyle even with the shorter routes.

                      Originally posted by Nick View Post
                      He wasn't really called upon to do much, as evident by the lack of downfield passing. I didn't see him do anything that I don't think Bulger could have done in the same situation.
                      Hiere's where we disagree: During the game I was impressed with Boller's pocket awareness, and his ability to move around enough to either throw it away or run for positive yardage. Mind you that I am a Bulger fan, so I am not trying to denigrate Marc's abilities as our starter. however his pocket awareness has been less than stellar as of late (whether it be from past beatings or his just holding on to the ball too long). This is the only area where Boller looked better than Marc IMO. Several times in the game after a play transpired where Kyle narrowly avoided being sacked, I couldn't help but imagine the same scenario with Bulger at QB, with the result being - he'd have been sacked or worse.

                      For those of you who might think otherwise, I support Bulger as our starter, and I am in no way inferring that Kyle is a better QB than Marc or that Kyle should be our starter if Bulger is healthy. Rather this is an observation based on one game in which I observed one aspect of Kyle's game that was a notch above what I've seen from Bulger lately.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                        Originally posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
                        I think you are being a bit tough on him.
                        But how? You really didn't elaborate on how in your response. I'm not saying Boller was crap. I'm not saying he shouldn't be the back-up. I'm just pointing out that he really wasn't asked to do much.

                        While Boller was efficient and the playcalling dinked and dunked the Rams down the field and into scoring opportunities, it simply wasn't an impressive display of quarterbacking. I don't think you'll find many people who feel those throws are especially difficult. There was very little passing beyond ten yards of the LOS.

                        There's nothing necessarily wrong with that; if it's working, it's working. But at the same time, let's not pretend like he went out there and tore it up, is what I'm saying. He was efficient, but aside from that 15-yard throw over the middle to McMichael, nothing else really wowed me about his performance.

                        Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                        even so there often was good pressure on Kyle even with the shorter routes.
                        I rewatched every Boller pass play prior to making my previous response, and really didn't see a substantial amount of pressure. Maybe I need to go back and watch again, but for a guy attempting 20 passes, I don't recall him really getting pressured all that much. Certainly not to the extent Bulger was pressured in only three series against the Jets earlier in the preseason, but then again, I don't think the Bengals' defense is as aggressive as what Rex Ryan is doing up in New York.

                        Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                        Hiere's where we disagree: During the game I was impressed with Boller's pocket awareness, and his ability to move around enough to either throw it away or run for positive yardage.
                        I agree that Boller is a better athlete than Bulger and better able to make plays using his legs. I would also agree that, over the last two seasons, Bulger's confidence in the pocket has diminished and he's not as likely as he used to be to stand in there and take a brutal hit. I think some of that comes from being coached post-Martz with an emphasis on ball security but also from the beatings he's taken over his career.

                        That being said, I think Bulger's ability to evade pressure is actually a bit underrated by fans (see, for instance, the 13-yard scramble he had last year against Washington that was called back b/c of a Barron penalty), and I think we saw evidence as recently as the Jets preseason game that Bulger is still very much able to make throws under pressure (see, for instance, the 15-yard completion to McMichael despite two free Jets rushing towards him).

                        So again, I'm still not sure I saw anything from Boller that Bulger couldn't have done; while Boller is more likely to take off and run in certain situations, Marc's certainly demonstrated as recently as last season that he can do the same.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                          Originally posted by Nick View Post
                          It's not hard to put up solid numbers when your pre-season passing gameplan consists of nearly all quick outs, slants, and curls with minimal downfield passing and few long developing pass plays that leave you exposed in the pocket.

                          Boller was efficient but I didn't find him particularly impressive, nor do I agree that it was fascinating that he played well within that situation. He wasn't really called upon to do much, as evident by the lack of downfield passing. I didn't see him do anything that I don't think Bulger could have done in the same situation.
                          I'd also like to add that during the "two minute drill" they attempted to run on Thursday, he really should have tried to get out of bounds on that scramble of his rather than being tackled in the middle of the field. That cost a lot of seconds for the Rams.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                            The way things are looking with Bulger and his past seasons. Boller is a refreshing replacement. Gado is no Jackson but he has impressed. Durability on the O line will
                            decide which QB will lead us this season. It's Bulger's job to lose.
                            For preseason we looked good.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Boller is showing the Rams his mettle ..

                              When Boller was in Baltimore, I saw him take some big hit & pop right back up.... the kid is tough.

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Boller Back To Familiar Role
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Boller Back to Familiar Role
                                Wednesday, November 25, 2009


                                By Nick Wagoner
                                Senior Writer

                                In the past five weeks, Kyle Boller has taken on some ambitious roles on the Rams’ practice field.

                                One week, Boller took on the task of impersonating Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, performing the many gesticulations and barking signals as the team’s scout team quarterback.

                                Last week, Boller put on the wrist band and gloves to mimic Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner. He’s also been Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and David Garrard not to mention the first two games of the season when he handled Matt Hasselbeck and Jason Campbell duties.

                                With the news coming late Monday afternoon that starting quarterback Marc Bulger would miss three to six weeks with a fractured tibia in his leg, Boller returned to practice Wednesday in the role he knows the best.

                                “I am Kyle Boller this week,” Boller said. “I will be myself.”

                                As the backup to Bulger, repetitions with the first team offense have been few and far between for Boller. Instead, it’s been Boller’s job to lead the scout team offense in an effort to give the first team defense the closest approximation possible to the various opposing quarterbacks they will face that week.

                                But just because Boller has been out of action for the past month-plus doesn’t mean he isn’t prepared to step in and lead the Rams’ offense.

                                In fact, Boller has had plenty of experience doing that in this, his first year with the team.

                                “I think that helps,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I do. If you went a three, four month stretch with one quarterback and you hear the same voice the whole time, there’s kind of a natural learning curve there. I think they are used to Kyle. It was two weeks or so ago somebody asked me if we got Kyle some reps and that’s why we do it, to keep guys oiled up. He’ll be ready to step in there.”

                                Actually, Boller is going on his third stint this year as the team’s starting quarterback. When Bulger suffered a broken pinkie in a training camp practice, Boller stepped in and started the bulk of the exhibition contests.

                                Bulger returned in time for the season opener against Seattle and played the first two contests plus the opening quarter or so against Green Bay on Sept. 27.

                                But when Bulger took a shot that caused him to land on his right shoulder, Boller entered that contest against the Packers and proceeded to immediately lead the Rams on three scoring drives, including two touchdown tosses to tight end Daniel Fells.

                                Bulger missed the next two games and Boller started those in his place, leaving Boller plenty comfortable with his knowledge of the offense and the players in place.

                                In his three games with two starts this season, Boller has thrown for 481 yards with two touchdowns...
                                -11-25-2009, 05:15 PM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                St. Louis Rams' Marc Bulger Is Out, Kyle Boller Steps In
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                St. Louis Rams' Marc Bulger is out, Kyle Boller steps in

                                BY JIM THOMAS
                                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                                08/18/2009

                                Life as a backup quarterback means you're always one play away from the spotlight. For Kyle Boller, that play took place Monday at Rams Park.

                                With the Rams working indoors because of rain, a center snap from Jason Brown doinked off the hands of quarterback Marc Bulger midway through practice. X-rays subsequently showed that Bulger had suffered a fractured pinky finger on his throwing hand. The two-time Pro Bowler will be sidelined at least two weeks.

                                "It kind of — not really popped — but I could tell he was hurting a little bit," Boller said. "He kind of stuck in there and went for a couple more (plays)."

                                But then Bulger headed off the practice field, and the next thing Boller knew, coach Steve Spagnuolo was in his ear.

                                "He said, 'You've got to go in right now,'" Boller said.

                                Boller took the rest of the practice reps with the starters in the morning, and took the full load with the first team in the afternoon.

                                During a situational goal-line period in the morning, Spagnuolo said Boller "pretty much did all the right things." And in the 7-on-7 passing period, "he stuck out," the coach said.

                                Nervous?

                                "Nah. You can't be nervous," Boller said. "That's part of the deal of being a backup. You've got to just be prepared to jump in there no matter the situation.

                                "It's not my first rodeo. I've been a starter. I've been out there. So I'm just going to go out there and be myself. Be a leader, and lead this team to hopefully a lot of scoring drives."

                                The No. 19 overall pick by Baltimore in 2003, Boller appeared in 53 games with 42 starts for the Ravens. He's that franchise's career leader in passing yards (7,846) but threw 44 interceptions to go with his 46 touchdown passes.

                                Last year in the Ravens' second exhibition game, a season-ending shoulder injury to Boller opened the door for rookie Joe Flacco at quarterback. Flacco nearly got the Ravens into the Super Bowl; Boller became expendable as an unrestricted free agent.

                                He signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with St. Louis, but only after the Rams got tired of waiting on Gus Frerotte. So Boller, 28, will start Friday against Atlanta, as well as the Rams' Aug. 27 contest at Cincinnati. But that should be it, unless Bulger's injury takes longer to heal than expected.

                                "There's what I'm going to call a small fracture in the pinky finger," Spagnuolo said. "It's not displaced, which is a good thing. ... You can't cast it. You don't do anything to it. He'll just tape it. We'll keep it immobilized for a couple of weeks, and we'll see where we are after that. He won't do very much for two...
                                -08-17-2009, 09:33 PM
                              • RamFan_Til_I_Die
                                Kyle Boller is comfortable as a backup for Rams
                                by RamFan_Til_I_Die
                                Kyle Boller is comfortable as a backup for Rams
                                Veteran still feels capable of being starting NFL QB
                                BY STEVE KORTE - News-Democrat

                                ST. LOUIS -- When center Jason Brown was signed by the St. Louis Rams, he matter-of-factly accused his former teammate, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller, of becoming gun shy.

                                Now that Boller also has joined the Rams, how are the two players getting along?

                                For a few seconds, Boller tried to act like a rift existed between himself and Brown.

                                Boller jokingly told reporters that Brown refused to snap him the ball during practice, but then quickly fessed up.

                                "No, I'm just kidding," Boller said. "I'm good with Jason. Jason was trying to make a point, and I've talked with Jason about that. It took us maybe five seconds to get over.

                                "I've been with him at Baltimore for four years. We have a great relationship. He's a great player, a great person and that's not going to be an issue at all."

                                Brown seemed apologetic as he talked about his relationship with Boller.

                                "Kyle and I are great friends," Brown said. "Of course, everybody, they might have tendencies or some type of flaws in their game. I have flaws in my game. I live in a glass house. I cannot cast any stones. I really can't.

                                "Kyle, (we're) best of friends. We still go out together, went out just the other night."

                                Back in March, Brown was using Boller as an example of what happens when an offensive line consistently fails to protect the quarterback.

                                Brown said, "Kyle Boller with the Ravens, I love him to death. But you see what getting hit one too many times early in your career can do to you. He became gun shy. Instead of getting the ball and standing back there with poise and then being able to step up, if there was a flash of anything, something, it might have been far on the edge, he started to scramble.

                                "You have to have the faith in your offensive line."

                                Even Boller, a first-round pick by the Ravens in the 2003 NFL Draft, admitted that he was thrown into the fire too quickly.

                                "I got thrown in pretty early," said Boller, who started nine games as a rookie in 2003. "It is tough learning a playbook, learning defenses, then you are starting in Pittsburgh this week.

                                "You want to think that you are ready but I took some valuable lessons from that."

                                Injuries also have been a major factor in Boller's career. He missed the entire 2008 season because of a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason.

                                Boller's injury cleared the way for rookie Joe Flacco to lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game.

                                "Injuries have prohibited me a little bit," Boller said. "Actually my rookie year playing...
                                -05-04-2009, 09:40 AM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Backup QB Boller Aims To Eliminate Mistakes
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Backup QB Boller aims to eliminate mistakes
                                By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
                                4 hours, 43 minutes ago

                                ST. LOUIS (AP)—If Kyle Boller is auditioning for a new deal with the St. Louis Rams, he has yet to impress.

                                The backup quarterback is getting extended playing opportunity, perhaps the rest of the season, given that Marc Bulger(notes) is on crutches with a fractured left shin bone. But Boller realizes the game-changing mistakes that have marred his play must be weeded out.

                                Boller threw two interceptions last week, including one on a tipped pass that was returned for the go-ahead touchdown in last weekend’s 27-17 loss to the Seahawks, and is responsible for seven turnovers in only 14 quarters. His other pick Sunday was in the end zone, negating a scoring opportunity.

                                “I wish a ball would pop 10 feet in the air and hit the guy in stride for a touchdown,” Boller said Wednesday. “That’s the way it goes. You have to protect the ball but I’m still going to go out there and try to make plays.”

                                Boller, who landed with a one-year free agent contract after sitting out 2008 with a shoulder injury in Baltimore, isn’t going to change. Despite the mounting mistakes, he said there’s no way he’ll go conservative this weekend at Chicago when he makes his second straight start.

                                “I’m not going to play scared, that’s when you do turn the ball over,” he said. “I don’t foresee that being a problem.”

                                The Rams (1-10) pretty much have to count on Boller improving, since rookie Keith Null is the only other quarterback on the roster. Coach Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t believe Null, a sixth-round pick, is ready and would just as soon he not play this season.

                                “I’m sure if you ask Kyle, certainly the second one, he’d like to have a better throw,” Spagnuolo said of the interceptions by Seattle. “I know Kyle would like to have both of them back.”

                                The coach has been able to say that a lot. Four of Boller’s turnovers have been returned for touchdowns, and two came in the red zone.

                                Of course, it’s not all the quarterback’s fault. The Rams have been inexperienced at wide receiver all season and the offensive line was minus three starters much of the game against Seattle. Boller was constantly on the run and was sacked four times, so he’s had to work through more than the usual soreness.

                                “Sometimes your best throws are when you get hit and you lay on the ground and hopefully they’re applauding when you play at home,” Boller said. “It was a little harder this week, definitely.”

                                Center Jason Brown is expected to make his 56th consecutive start, although he grudgingly missed the first practice of his career on Wednesday with a sprained right knee.

                                “It’s a humbling experience,” Brown said. “I did not want to miss this practice, not at all, but it’s all about doing the smart thing.”...
                                -12-02-2009, 08:04 PM
                              • eldfan
                                St. Louis Rams QB Kyle Boller has another opportunity
                                by eldfan
                                St. Louis Rams QB Kyle Boller has another opportunity

                                Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
                                [More columns]Bryan Burwell
                                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                                09/29/2009

                                This was all too familiar territory to him, so Kyle Boller knew exactly what to do. The moment reporters streamed toward him Monday afternoon inside the Rams' locker room, the freshly anointed most popular man in St. Louis flashed a 100-watt grin, confidently placed his hands on his hips and gave the on-rushing horde his best "come hither" look.

                                "So do you need me, guys?"

                                Of course we needed him.

                                Barring some major medical miracle that will heal Marc Bulger's damaged throwing shoulder overnight, Boller will be the starting quarterback for the Rams this Sunday in San Francisco, and perhaps the foreseeable future.

                                "You know you're the most popular man in town right now," someone told him.

                                Boller laughed.

                                "Oh yeah, I know, I know."

                                So how exactly did he get to be so popular?

                                A.) He's not Marc Bulger.

                                B.) He's the backup quarterback.

                                C.) Did I already say he's not Marc Bulger?

                                Boller stood in the middle of the locker room, ready to take on his role — no matter how temporary it might be — with his normal hell-on-wheels enthusiasm. As for the angry legions on the Internet message boards and radio airwaves who have held endless anti-Marc Bulger vigils since the day he first committed the unforgivable sin of not being Kurt Warner, you could almost hear their voices rise in unison to say, "Be still my heart."

                                These folks look at Boller as the answer to their long-overdue prayers ("Dear Football Gods: Anyone But Bulger.") Boller, who has been around the NFL block a few times, isn't necessarily fooled by this outpouring of love because he's already quite familiar with the standard love 'em, hate 'em world of an NFL quarterback.

                                "Oh yeah, I've been on both sides of it," Boller said with slight amusement. "And I can tell you this: Usually it's not fair."

                                Six years ago, he was a Golden Child first-round pick (19th overall by the Baltimore Ravens) who was supposed to be the answer to all the prayers of a salivating fan base.

                                A few years later, he felt the full brunt of their hostility and impatience, as the Ravens faithful began saying their own ABB prayers (Anyone But Boller) when he turned out to be an injury-prone passer who only teased Baltimore with flashes of promise between too many long stretches of un-franchise-like QB play.

                                After investing nearly $7 million on him as a franchise No. 1 pick, the Ravens seemed to spend the next few years trying to find someone who could replace him. They drafted a Heisman Trophy winner (Troy Smith) and signed...
                                -09-29-2009, 08:18 AM
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