Rams quarterback Austin Davis set to battle for spot again

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Before St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis had a chance to stop and take stock of his changing surroundings, new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti did the work for him.

Sitting in a Rams quarterback meeting room that underwent major renovations during the offseason, Davis found himself in the middle of a sea change featuring a new coordinator in Cignetti, a new position coach in Chris Weinke and three new teammates.

Heading into his fourth NFL season, Davis is in the new position of being the lone quarterback holdover from a season ago.

"It’s nice to be the one constant, I guess," Davis said. "We were in a meeting and coach Cig called me the veteran and I was just like kind of blown away. I guess that’s how fast it happens. We just keep putting one year on top of another and next thing you know, you are considered a veteran, I guess. It is a different feel but every year is different. We all have a role to play and I’m trying to do my best to figure out what that role is going to be for me and how I can help the team."

While Davis remains as the constant in the room, his standing with the Rams during the forthcoming preseason hasn't changed much. Which is to say that Davis will once again be in the middle of a heated competition for a roster spot when training camp begins in July. That's been Davis' status quo since he came to the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of Southern Mississippi.

In that first season, Davis squeezed his way onto the roster out of training camp, then spent 15 of 16 games on the pregame inactive list behind starter Sam Bradford and backup Kellen Clemens. Davis again was slotted behind Clemens in 2013 but found his way back to the team after Bradford's first knee injury.

Last year, when it appeared Davis was something of a long shot to make the team, he again earned his way on to the roster, beating out rookie Garrett Gilbert for the No. 3 job and moving up to No. 2 after Bradford suffered another injury. This time, Davis actually got meaningful playing time, starting eight games and throwing for 2,001 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in leading the team to a 3-5 record.

Even with some production and experience under his belt, there's no doubt Davis is once again going to have to earn his spot in a presumptive battle against Case Keenum for the primary backup job behind Nick Foles.

“It’s going to be good," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We’ve got to get Nick the reps, but we’re going to try to balance the reps out and just see what happens. Austin and Case have both won games in the league, so I think it will be a good battle.”

With Foles entrenched as the starter and the Rams apparently willing to sign him to a contract extension, and rookie Sean Mannion joining the mix as a third-round pick, there's likely only one job available. Mannion isn't expected to be able to handle backup duties right away, which leaves Davis and a returning Keenum to battle it out.

The Rams thought enough of Keenum to trade a 2016 seventh-round pick to reacquire him after he spent part of 2014 with the team, but they also thought enough of Davis to extend a restricted free agent tender offer that will compensate him at the same level as Foles.

Even as the last quarterback standing from a year ago, Davis still doesn't have the job security of a player with that status. But he remains unfazed by yet another challenge.

"The way I see it every year there is always competition," Davis said. "Every year there are four quarterbacks here and all four of them can play. The decision makers will make the decision at the end. All I can do is really prepare and try to play my best ball."