EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Case Keenum has found himself in nearly every scenario a player can experience in the league.
Keenum has been on a practice squad, run the scout team, been a starter and a backup. He has been released. He has been traded. You name it, he has done it. All of which makes Keenum uniquely qualified to handle just about anything, including his new role as the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback.
"Yeah, I've been on a lot of sides of the quarterback position," Keenum said. "I've been named the starter after a guy that gets injured or whatever it is. I've been a backup now for a while. I've been replaced as a starter. I've been a No. 4 guy on one team and then starting the next week for another team. I've kind of been through it all.
"You have to be ready when you get a chance. I'm ready. I've been prepared and that's what I do every week, is I get ready to play. I'm excited for my chance, I really am. I'm excited to go out there and compete again. You don't get many chances to play in this league. I definitely count it as a blessing. To have a second chance to come out and compete is incredible."
For Keenum, the chance to start his first game with the Rams -- he started 10 in two stints with the Houston Texans -- might be incredible, but it's also a little bittersweet. When Rams coach Jeff Fisher informed Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion that Keenum would be taking the starting job from Foles on Monday, Keenum's first instinct was to reach out to Foles and support his friend.
"Nick's one of my best friends," Keenum said. "We've been fighting hard together to play the best that our position can play. I have the utmost respect for Nick. That's the first person that I talked to after Coach Fisher told us. We have a great relationship and I have his back no matter what."
Now it's Foles' turn to have Keenum's back.
Keenum had a short stay in St. Louis last year after the Rams claimed him on waivers from Houston. He spent part of the season on the active roster and another part on the practice squad before the Texans re-signed him to step in for their injured quarterbacks. The Rams then traded for Keenum in March with an eye toward making him Foles' primary backup.
Having had about half a season with the Rams in 2014 and more than half of this year, Keenum is comfortable in coordinator Frank Cignetti's offense. Nothing will be scaled back to get Keenum up to speed this week.
"He's been preparing himself to play week in and week out," Fisher said. "[He] understands the offense, so we just want to be mindful of the things that he really likes. There's some different things. We made some minor adjustments in the plan just because there's some things that he sees and sees a little differently than Nick and they prefer. It's all good. All it does is hopefully translates into first downs."
In some ways, the Rams might actually expand what they do with Keenum in the lineup. Upon naming Keenum the starter, Fisher cited his ability to extend plays with his legs as one of the primary reasons for the move. Fisher and the Rams are hoping Keenum can provide "a spark," at least something that can give the Rams a temporary lift while Foles catches his breath.
Through the first nine games, Foles was 14-of-35 for 138 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a passer rating of 51.8 and a QBR of 8.7 when he was outside of the pocket. Naturally, the Rams didn't ask him to leave the pocket much, limiting the amount of bootlegs and roll-outs they asked Foles to run.
Logic would dictate if the Rams believe Keenum can make plays with his legs, that could be a new wrinkle this week. In his 10 starts, Keenum is 21-of-43 for 398 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 86.5 and a QBR of 43.7 when outside the pocket.
"I think that Case has shown that he can extend plays," Fisher said. "I mean, scramble around, extend plays and make throws down the field. So, yeah, there are some things that we can do a little bit differently."
Keenum took his first extended reps with the starters on Tuesday and acknowledged that though he has a good rapport with the Rams receivers and tight ends, developing chemistry is always an ongoing process.
But other than the extra reps in practice and where his name sits on the depth chart, Keenum seems unfazed by his latest task.
"You may dot a few more I's and cross a few more T's when you're thinking about the plan," Keenum said. "I try to visualize when I'm not playing, I try to prepare like I am. My routine is quite similar. I try to prepare and be the most mentally ready that I can be every time I step on the practice field. Now, instead of sitting back there visualizing it doing fake reps on air, I get the real reps, which is a lot better."
For Keenum, it's a change in role, but it's nothing new.