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Practice Report 12/19: Rams Considering Mannion for Backup QB

Posted Dec 19, 2016

With QB Jared Goff still going through the league's concussion protocol, QB Sean Mannion could be the next man up this week against the 49ers.

It’s been a while since quarterback Sean Mannion has dressed for a game. The Oregon State product was the Rams’ backup in Week 1 against the 49ers on Monday Night Football, representing only his second career appearance on the gameday roster.

That may change on Saturday — funnily enough, also against San Francisco — as Rams interim head coach John Fassel said Monday that the club is considering moving Mannion up the depth chart to No. 2 for Los Angeles’ final two games of the 2016 season.

It’s a pertinent topic, with starting quarterback Jared Goff still going through the concussion protocol. While Goff was able to participate in aspects of the Rams’ walk-thru practice and go through all of the team’s Monday meetings, Fassel said the rookie has yet to be fully cleared to play.

To this point, Case Keenum has served as the Rams’ backup signal-caller since Goff ascended to the starting role against Miami on Nov. 20.

“We’d love to get Sean some reps in the situation like last week, where something happens to Jared — whether he can’t find his helmet or his shoelace breaks — get Sean in there for a little bit of work, which would be good, to see Sean,” Fassel said following Monday’s practice. “Case has performed well when required, but it would be good for the team to get a look at Sean and see what he can do if pressed into service by necessity.”

“Obviously, that would be a great opportunity for me,” Mannion said. “I’ve honestly been preparing that way all year. I was the backup Week 1 and then have been the ‘three’ all the way to this point. But my preparation hasn’t changed.”

“Being the backup, I guess, puts you closer to getting into the game,” Mannion added. “But, like I said, all year I’ve prepared as though I’m the one playing, I’m the one starting, and the one who has to go in and win games. So that doesn’t change.”

Selected in the third round of the 2015 draft after becoming the Pac 12's all-time leading passer, Mannion said he feels he’s made plenty of progress behind the scenes during his nearly two full seasons with the Rams.

“Without getting a chance to play, maybe it doesn’t show to you guys — and you guys aren’t able to see it,” Mannion said. “But I certainly feel like I’ve been getting better and better each day and each week from last year to this year. So that’s something I feel good about, and I’m always working on my game.”

Mannion played a series during the Rams’ 31-7 loss in Cincinnati last year, finishing 6-of-7 passing for 31 yards. Other than that, in-game reps have been hard for Mannion to come by. He completed 65 percent of his passes in the 2016 preseason for 325 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. But being the third-string quarterback means being inactive every week, a situation that can be tough for any competitor.

“I think I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Mannion said. “I think, like I said earlier, like anybody in this locker room, you want to get an opportunity to play. And I’m certainly no different.

“You try to stay engaged in ways other than being on the field,” Mannion continued. “So for me, on gameday, I come out early and I probably throw 100 to 125 balls and get a really good workout in and that’s how I stay engaged on gameday. And then doing whatever I can during the game to help Jared, or help Case, or help the team.”

If the situation arises, aiding L.A. this week could mean getting behind center on the field. As Fassel put it, the reason for making the change in part would be to see what the club has in Mannion and the progress he’s made since his arrival.

“I think that’s the point — should he need to go in the game, it would be great to see what he can do. He was a draft pick of ours,” Fassel said. “He’s also earned it. He comes in early every day, he stays late with Case and Jared, he prepares like he’s going to play, which is hard to do as an inactive, third quarterback all season.

“He’s earned it, it would be great to see what he can do,” Fassel continued. “Case would understand, so we’ll see how that goes.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Rams had a number of minor roster moves come through on Monday.

As Fassel said would likely be the case last Friday, defensive back Marqui Christian was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Defensive back Isaiah Johnson has been promoted from the practice squad to the active roster to take his place.

Los Angeles also signed four players to its practice squad: defensive back Jerome Couplin (William & Mary), linebacker Reggie Northrup (Florida State), linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (Auburn), and defensive back Kevin Short (Fort Scott Community College).

Elsewhere, the Jets signed linebacker Randell Johnson to their active roster from the Rams’ practice squad.