Backup QBs in a hurry to get acclimated

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
6:00
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams were unable to coax Brett Favre out of retirement to add to their depth chart at quarterback, so they brought back the man who broke all of his passing records at Southern Mississippi.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Rams re-signed Austin Davis and added veteran Brady Quinn as potential backups for newly installed starter Kellen Clemens.

Clemens is the starter against Seattle, and very likely the foreseeable future, but for now the Rams are working quickly to get Davis or Quinn up to speed should something happen to Clemens on Monday night.

[+] EnlargeAustin Davis
AP Photo/David RichardQB Austin Davis' time with the Rams in the preseason will help him if he is forced into action.
The logical option to serve as Clemens’ backup is Davis, who spent the 2012 season as the third-stringer behind Sam Bradford and Clemens. The team originally signed Davis as an undrafted free agent after a decorated career at Southern Miss.

Davis has the most knowledge of coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, and the Rams wouldn’t have to limit their play-calling as much if he were to step in.

“Fortunately he was here and he stayed in shape and was working out,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “It just makes it that much easier when you’ve got a guy in that spot that knows what he’s doing. It makes it that much easier for the play-caller.

“In the event that something happens, he can go in and put himself in position to execute some plays, as opposed to somebody that goes in with a really small package (of plays).”

It didn’t take much for the Rams to get Davis back in the fold. After he lost the backup job to Clemens in training camp and the preseason, Davis spent a week on Miami’s practice squad, but otherwise had been spending his time in St. Louis helping coach at a local high school.

Davis attempted to stay sharp by throwing to the members of the Westminster Christian Academy in Town and Country, Mo. and working out. He had a few auditions with other NFL teams, including one with the Houston Texans on Monday.

Ultimately, returning to the Rams was a no-brainer, even if it meant coming on the heels of a season-ending injury to Bradford.

“I’m glad to be back,” Davis said. “It’s been a tough (seven) weeks. It feels like it’s been two years, kind of sitting around, waiting, just trying to get back in any way you can. But it feels good.”

In two practices since his return, Davis has had little trouble getting re-acclimated to the offense. While he had to turn in his iPad playbook after his release, he was never in another place long enough to forget what he had learned in St. Louis.

Although Davis missed an opportunity to win the backup job in the summer, a job that would have him in line to be the starter now, he said it’s not something he thinks about much now.

“Probably the biggest thing to being back here is I know the system,” Davis said. “The terminology’s all familiar. We just kind of hit the ground running, and in a way it feels like we never left.”

Quinn, meanwhile, has a much harder road to get up to speed to where he could contribute. The New York Jets released Quinn on Monday, ending his tenure with his fifth NFL franchise.

The 2007 first-round pick of Cleveland is now at his sixth NFL stop, so he has much more terminology and offensive concepts swimming around in his head.

Quinn believes he can learn the Rams’ scheme quickly, but he said learning the language isn’t as hard as getting on the same page with his receivers.

“There’s a lot of things that happen in a football game, so you want to get adjusted to the receivers and tight ends and running backs, how they cut, how they move, that makes a big difference as far as ball placement and timing and those sorts of things, and it has a huge effect on our offense,” Quinn said. “That was the biggest thing. It doesn’t take a ton of time to understand what you are trying to do with each play and maybe how to read the play. It’s just getting it down with the personnel you have.”

Having been exposed to the business side of the NFL recently (and many times in Quinn’s case), Quinn and Davis aren’t allowing themselves to think about what the future could hold.

The Rams could use a viable backup long term, but before any visions of a more permanent job can dance in their heads, both players have much more important orders of business.

“I try not to look too much further ahead, especially in this business and the way my year has been so far,” Quinn said. “I am just trying to do the best I can with each day and try to get better.”

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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