Kellen Clemens Ready to Assume Starting Role

Posted Oct 22, 2013

In a matter of minutes, Kellen Clemens’ role with the 2013 Rams changed drastically.

Clemens, who began the year in his third season as Sam Bradford’s backup, was called upon after Bradford left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with a torn ACL in his left knee. In less than a week, Clemens will assume the role of starter as the Rams take on Seattle on Monday night.

He is more than comfortable with guiding the team’s current offensive system, having worked with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer from 2006-2008 with the New York Jets, in addition to the last two years in St. Louis.

“I’ve been in this offense for quite a while and I know the ins and outs,” Clemens said on Monday. “I think I have a pretty good rapport with most of my teammates and I’m ready to play. I have a lot of faith in my ability to play this position. I’ve worked really hard the last several years and I’ve got some experience, this won’t be my first game. I’m excited for the opportunity and I’m excited—first and foremost—with the way my teammates have responded in the past 24 hours.”

Clemens has filled in capably in this role before. With Bradford sidelined with a high ankle sprain in 2011, Clemens received three starts and compiled a career-best passer rating of 73.8. In his Rams career, Clemens has played in six games, including three starts, and has completed 51 of 98 pass attempts for 604 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 69.4.

Over the past two seasons, Clemens has appeared in just three games in a relief role, completing three of seven attempts for 58 yards. In his last start, during the 2011 season finale against San Francisco, Clemens completed 14 of 31 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown. Now two years removed from holding a starting role and seven weeks following a preseason in which he routinely worked with the Rams’ first-team offensive unit, Clemens said his biggest challenge this week will be to once again get in sync with the Rams’ corps of starting receivers.

“The reps are so limited over the course of the week (as a backup),” Clemens said. “When the first-string receivers and tight ends are out there, Sam is throwing to them and it’s been that way for the last several weeks. Just kind of getting in sync with them, a lot of that will be reps and some of it will be just talking about it, because at this level, you can’t run guys’ legs into the ground. You have to be cautious of that, and we will be this week.”

With the Rams at 3-4 and in need of a spark entering the team’s first appearance on Monday Night Football at the Edward Jones Dome since Dec. 11, 2006, Clemens’ teammates have been quick to place their confidence in the eight-year veteran.

“We’re very confident with Kellen,” WR Chris Givens said. “Offensively, we feel like we just need to continue to get better, even with Kellen.  All the guys are just going to rally around him and do their best to make plays.”