Veteran A.J. Feeley scoffs at the notion that he's had any impact on the rapid development of fellow Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, the NFL's offensive player of the year in 2010.
"Sam's a really bright guy and an amazing quarterback; you could see that from day one when he came in here," Feeley said. "He's mature beyond his years, he's got all the physical tools, he's got the charisma, he's got the moxie. He's got everything you could possibly want in a quarterback."
Bradford tells a different story, however.
"A.J.'s been awesome," he said. "Last year he helped a ton, just getting me going, telling me what to expect, what the games were going to be like, telling me what to do during the week to get myself prepared. This year it's been the same thing, too: helping me with reading defenses, telling me what to expect in certain coverages, how he sees things. ...
"To have a guy like him who's been around for 11 years and who has seen a lot of football, it's invaluable."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Feeley, 34, arrived here as a free-agent signee shortly before the Rams made Bradford the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. A fifth-round draft choice by Philadelphia in 2001, the former Oregon standout has been a backup virtually his entire career.
Playing with five different teams, Feeley has started just 15 games. Eight of those came in 2004 with Miami. He hasn't taken a snap in a regular-season game since 2007 with the Eagles.
Still, he has to prepare just like the starter, despite getting fewer reps in practice. He has to study the opponent, digest the game plan and be ready to step in at a moment's notice.
"I don't know if you become accustomed to" the role, Feeley said. "You understand the nature of it. ... You don't embrace being a backup; you're competitive and you want to be the guy. But there's something in you that understands this is a team game and everybody plays a role. You understand that there's a bigger picture involved."
So Feeley just grinds on.
"If you come to work every day with the approach of trying to get better and trying to make yourself the best quarterback you possibly can, I think things kind of take care of themselves," he explained. "I think everybody around you sees it, and it's nice to have guys in the background thinking, 'If something were to happen, we have a guy in place that could still run the show.'"
Feeley spent part of his summer in Germany. His wife, Heather Mitts, was a defender on the U.S. women's soccer team that finished second in the World Cup. The highlight, Feeley said, was the Americans' stunning comeback in the quarterfinals vs. Brazil that ended with a victory on penalty kicks.
"It was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had, especially how they won in that fashion," Feeley said. "It was definitely emotional. I was proud of my wife and I was also proud to be an American."
Feeley came home before the semifinal win over France and the title-game loss to Japan. "The food and the beer over there was taking away from my training," he said.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Wednesday that safety Mikail Baker (knee), defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (back), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (calf) and defensive tackle Fred Robbins (back) won't play in Friday night's preseason game at Kansas City.
Defensive tackle Daniel Muir (ankle) and wide receiver Danario Alexander (knee) could see some action. Both got limited work in practice Wednesday.
With the temperature soaring outside, Spagnuolo moved practice into the indoor facility at Rams Park.
"I thought we had two pretty good practices in the heat (Monday and Tuesday). We're 48 hours away from playing a game, so I wanted to get them a little bit fresh," he explained. "Part of the balance of this head coaching thing is getting a team ready physically and mentally, and also having their bodies right. I'm trying my best. We'll see if it helps a little bit."
It was the last practice open to the public, and the fans were invited in to watch the workout.
Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to be on hand Friday night to present the Governor's Cup to the winning team. The Chiefs have possession of the trophy because of their 27-13 win over the Rams last December.