By Cedric Williams
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is doing all he can to avoid any and all overtures to any kind of quarterback controversy.
But with 13-year veteran Shaun Hill nursing a quad strain and third-year man Austin Davis fully healthy and coming off a thrilling victory last week, in his first career start, the questions keep coming.
Fans, media and inquiring minds all over the league want to know, who’s going to play quarterback for the Rams this week? Will it be the veteran or the youngster?
“If Shaun is healthy and able to play, and not gonna subject himself to re-injuring it and making this worse, then Shaun’s our quarterback and Austin’s our backup,” Fisher said during his weekly press conference Monday evening at the Rams Park Training Facility in Earth City. “That’s just the way it is.
“And you know what? I won’t visit with you guys (Tuesday), but I will on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. So you can ask me again Wednesday, Thursday, Friday if you want. You’re gonna get the same answer.”
Well that clears that up. Except for one thing — no one knows if Hill will be healthy enough to play on Sunday, when the Rams host the Dallas Cowboys at the Edward Jones Dome.
Hill went through a brief workout before last Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, but it was obvious, he didn’t have anywhere near the mobility necessary to play quarterback in an actual NFL game.
That’s when the decision was made to start Davis, who played well and led St. Louis to its first win of the season.
Since then, though, observers and Rams fans especially, have been clamoring for more of Davis. But Fisher says no, he will go with Hill if he can play.
“I’m proud of Austin, and the way the team rallied around him,” Fisher said. “It was really exciting in the locker room for him. But you guys haven’t seen Shaun. (He) was five for five against a good Minnesota defense here. This week (off) really helped him, and another week will help him, and hopefully put this thing behind him.”
If Hill can’t go and Davis gets the start this week, the veteran from Maryland would get at least another full week to recover, as the Rams will enjoy their bye next week and not have another game until October 5 in Philadelphia.
“(Having the bye week) would be a factor,” Fisher said. “Again, this is not coach-speak. It’s day to day. We’re going to see how he is.”
The Rams will practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to get ready for Dallas. But unless Hill looks completely healthy before then, it will probably be a game-time decision on whether or not he plays on Sunday.
Along with the conversation regarding Hill, Fisher also had news to share about two other key offensive players that were injured in the Tampa Bay game.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin went down and stayed down after an awkward hit in the second quarter in which his right knee appeared to have been bent backwards.
The second-year man out of West Virginia had to be helped off the field and didn’t return, while tight end Cory Harkey left the game briefly after he was blindsided with a low hit on his left knee.
Harkey did return to the game, but had a noticeable limp following the game.
“We did tests, did MRI both on (tight end) Cory Harkey and (wide receiver) Tavon Austin … both have mild knee strains. Nothing that requires surgery (and) I wouldn’t rule them out for this weekend.
“They’re both, as you can imagine, stiff and sore today, but it was good news this morning and we really didn’t have anything else.’’
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.