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Practice Report 11/2: Keenum Remains Focused on Next Opponent

Posted Nov 2, 2016

After the bye, starting QB Case Keenum said he's focused on limiting mistakes and becoming more consistent.

Case Keenum has gone through his share of ups and downs this season as the Rams’ starting quarterback — particularly over Los Angeles’ last two games. In Detroit, Keenum had a franchise record-setting day, at one point completing 20 consecutive passes. But then against the Giants in London, Keenum was credited for four interceptions — displaying the swinging pendulum nature of the NFL.

“We can’t put ourselves in that situation and when the defense is playing that well,” Keenum said after Wednesday’s practice. “I can’t turn the ball over — that’s too many turnovers to win a ball game.”

One might think Keenum’s situation as the starter would be trying, given how those outside the building seemingly raise the question every week of when quarterback Jared Goff will take over behind center. But according to Keenum, that noise isn’t even reaching him.

“It hasn’t changed — nothing’s changed. I’m playing,” Keenum said. “I’m playing this week, taking it a week at a time and that’s what I’ve been doing. For me, I don’t pay attention to anything outside this building. No offense to you guys and what you guys do, but I don’t pay attention to a lot of that.

“What matters to me is the opinions to the 53 guys in that locker room and the coaches in their rooms,” Keenum continued. “I’m going to go out and try to do the best I can – prepare to put this team in the best situation to win ball games. That’s what my goal is this week. I’m not worried about anything else — forward or backwards.”

In the Rams’ first seven games of the season, Keenum has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,708 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Offensive coordinator Rob Boras said becoming more consistent will be key for not just Keenum’s improvement, but also the offense as a whole.

“He’s played well, and played really well at times. Then there’s plays, just like every position, that you want to have back. Really pleased with his leadership and what he’s providing for us,” Boras said. “But, again, I can say it for Case as I can say it for a lot of positions across the board – it’s just finding that consistency, and eliminating the bad plays. That’s magnified at the quarterback position, but if we can eliminate the bad plays, it’s going to give ourselves a chance to continue to be successful.”

That will not be easy against a Panthers team with a strong defense, particularly with Carolina coming off an eight-sack game against Arizona last week.

“They’re a great front. Probably the best [linebackers] crew that I’ve ever come across, that I’ve ever played against. We have our work cut out for us,” Keenum said. “We have to I.D. the fronts, get ready and attack them on the back end.”

SPEAKING OF QUARTERBACKS…

As you may know, Goff took the majority of first-team reps during the Rams’ bye week practice last Wednesday. Boras said prior to the club’s long road trip that the rookie had progressed to asking more advanced questions in the classroom, signaling his greater understanding of the offense. And the O.C. said that came through in Goff’s extended reps last week.

“That practice Wednesday, I thought it was great,” Boras said. “To me, and you guys that are watching practice, [you can see] how fast he’s getting in and out of the huddle. You could just see the confidence with what was going on. The wheel weren’t turning when he got up to the line of scrimmage, and he was real accurate, and decisive with what he was doing.

“I’ve kept talking about how well he’s been doing in the classroom — it was time to see it out here with all those reps that he got,” Boras added. “I think we were all really pleased to see what was able to do in those couple of practices.”

Goff has been getting his usual reps with the offense, which is standard for a backup quarterback during the practice week. He’s also been working with the scout team offense, as has second-year QB Sean Mannion. The difference between the two, according to head coach Jeff Fisher, is how the quarterbacks can process things without true practice time.

“Sean can get the mental reps. He’s been in the system, he understands,” Fisher said. “And that’s where Jared’s closing the gap, too, as well, is just getting the mental reps when he doesn’t have that physical snap.”

But what is clear to Boras is that if Goff is called upon to play in a game, he would be ready.

“I think Jared would’ve said that a year ago,” Boras said. “That’s the great thing about Jared — how confident he is. I think, yeah, he is ready, and I know he believes that he’s ready, and I believe the coaches and his teammates know he’s able, if he’s called upon, to go out there and do it.

“That’s the thing since we’ve all met Jared, is the confidence that he has,” Boras continued. “He’s a great teammate, he’s helping Case. But if his number gets called, we know he’s capable and ready to go out there and play.”

INJURY REPORT

The Rams listed five players on their first injury report of the week.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers (groin), offensive lineman Jamon Brown (hand), and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (ankle) were all limited in Wednesday’s session.

“He was limited today at practice, but only because we held him back,” Fisher said. “He wanted more — that’ll give you some idea [of his potential availability]. So that’s encouraging.”

Elsewhere, defensive end William Hayes (ankle) and wide receiver Nelson Spruce (calf) did not participate in the session.

EXTRA POINTS

— Keenum — who set NCAA records for total passing yards, touchdowns, and completions at Houston — had his number retired at the university over the bye week.

“It meant a lot,” Keenum said. “It’s hard while I’m in the middle of a season, while I’m working extremely hard. I always try to stay humble, but something like that I’ll be able to look back, for the rest of my life and see that No. 7 is retired at Houston.”

— Boras said the team is excited to potentially have wide receiver Pharoh Cooper available to add an extra dimension to the offense.

“We know he’s dynamic. He’d be a great addition to get out there on Sunday, with what he’s able to do with the ball in his hands, in the slot for us,” Boras said. “Early in practice today, he made a couple of really nice plays down the field against our defense, as well. We see all of that stuff, and we’re excited about getting Pharoh out there and seeing what ‘Coop’ can do.”

— Finally, when it comes to getting running back Todd Gurley and the run game going, Boras cited how the club was able to move the ball against the Lions, saying the offense needs to get back to that level consistently.

“It seems like forever ago, but that Detroit game, we found some rhythm offensively, whether it was through the air, or handing the ball in the run game early. So, they play hand-in-hand,” Boras said. “It’s just finding consistency from drive-to-drive, and then from game-to-game, and that’s really what we’re looking for moving forward.”