EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Entering this year's training camp and preseason, the primary competition at quarterback appeared to be between incumbent backup Austin Davis and re-acquired understudy Case Keenum.
As it turns out, there never really was much of a competition.
"I think Case has the advantage right now," St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "I would say the competition would be related to the third spot, with Austin and Sean. So we’re going to try to get them both reps in the game. But I think that Case has done a good enough job right now at this point that he’s got No. 2 locked up.”
The Rams traded with the Houston Texans to get Keenum back in the fold on the opening day of free agency, sending a 2016 seventh-round pick to Houston to get Keenum back after he left the team's practice squad for the Texans' active roster at the end of the season.
Keenum had initially come to St. Louis after the cutdown to the 53-man roster last September but he never got much of a chance to play as he spent most of his time playing catch up. Although Keenum didn't get many chances, he apparently showed enough for the Rams to want him back.
This time around, Keenum has had a full offseason and training camp to make an impression.
"We saw it last year when we had him on the practice squad," Fisher said. "He just has a good feel for our offense and timing and release and is a natural athlete. Since the trade, he’s been able to sit here and really grasp the offense, so he’s a got a good feel for what we’re doing.”
Perhaps in part because the Rams already know what they have in Davis -- he started eight games in 2014 -- they've given Keenum the bulk of the opportunities in three preseason games. He's played seven series and thrown a team-high 34 passes in those games. Davis, meanwhile, has been relegated to just three series and thrown five passes, both numbers clearly the fewest among the four quarterbacks on the roster.
In other words, whatever semblance of "competition" that the Rams looked to have at quarterback has never really developed. While Fisher said Davis and Mannion are competing for the third spot, that is almost certainly coach speak.
The Rams have also given Mannion more work than Davis in the preseason games. Given the team's refusal to part ways with relatively early picks -- Isaiah Pead, anyone? -- it seems exceedingly unlikely they'd part ways with a third-round pick like Mannion after just one training camp.
So while many Rams will be fighting for spots on the team when they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, whatever opportunities Davis gets will likely be as an audition for one of 31 other teams.