THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Case Keenum knows his statistics are unimpressive, and he sees the Los Angeles Rams' record hovering below .500. He also realizes the raw economic imperatives faced by an NFL franchise that traded six draft picks to move up to get a quarterback with the No. 1 overall choice.
The team captain still couldn't deny his hurt feelings when the Rams (4-5) promoted Jared Goff into his starting spot this week.
''Honestly, I wasn't happy,'' Keenum said Wednesday after his second practice as the backup to the 22-year-old rookie who will take his first NFL snap Sunday.
''I want to play,'' Keenum said. ''That's why I play football, is to play football, is to be the quarterback, the guy with the ball in his hands. With that being said, I trust Coach (Jeff) Fisher. I trust the coaches and their decision.''
The Rams will get their first look at their future when the Miami Dolphins (5-4) visit the Coliseum. Goff sat behind Keenum for Los Angeles' first nine games, but Goff's progress in practice and the Rams' stagnant offensive performances for Keenum finally persuaded Fisher to make the change.
The timing still surprised Keenum, who led the Rams in a 9-6 victory over the Jets last weekend to snap a four-game skid. Los Angeles is still well within contention for the franchise's first playoff berth since 2004, and the defense has managed to win two games in which the offense couldn't score a touchdown.
While fellow veteran quarterback Nick Foles asked to leave the Rams when Goff was drafted, Keenum embraced a mentoring role. That didn't make the inevitable move any easier to take.
''I guess it was going to happen at some point,'' said Keenum, who has completed 61 percent of his throws with 11 interceptions and nine TDs. ''But in my mind, it was my team. That's the way I viewed it. It was my offense, and I took ownership of it.''
Fisher and offensive coordinator Rob Boras are aware they're turning over the keys to an offense ranked 31st in the league in yardage and dead last with 15.4 points per game. The coaches are attempting to manage expectations even before Goff steps on the field, with Fisher already declaring that Sunday ''is not going to define his career.''
''I'm hoping that the game slows down for him, and I think it will,'' Fisher added. ''But there's going to be tough times in this game, because this is a good defense.''
Fisher made the decision to go with Goff, but Boras is charged with making it work while still keeping Keenum involved in game preparation. Boras plans to focus his play-calls on the passing schemes with which Goff has the most comfort.
''When we drafted Jared where we did, everybody knew what was going to happen,'' Boras said. ''It was just a question of when. We're all competitors, and Case is a competitive person. He's not excited about this, but he also understands the situation. ... My heart goes out to Case. Case is a man. If he gets called on again, he will be ready, because that's who he is.''
Goff's arm strength, size and decisiveness are NFL-caliber, but the Rams acknowledge he had a longer learning curve than some passers because of coach Sonny Dykes' offensive style at California, where the quarterback doesn't often take snaps under center or call plays on the field. Several teammates noted Goff's improved confidence in play-calling since his first weeks in LA.
''He isn't making as many hasty throws that can turn into interceptions,'' guard Rodger Saffold said. ''He's better able to read the defenses in practice, and he's making the play calls. He's been more fluid all around.''
Saffold acknowledged ''a little bit'' of surprise at the timing of the change. He realizes Goff's chances should be better in front of his home crowd, which chanted his name two weeks ago when the offense struggled mightily in a loss to Carolina.
''Well, you got what you wanted,'' Saffold said. ''So be out there in full force and support him, and know there's going to be some growing pains.''
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