Brady Quinn came all the way from New York to join the Rams’ quarterback corps. Austin Davis came all the way from West County.
For the last several weeks, Davis has been working as a volunteer assistant football coach at Westminster Christian Academy, a high school in Town and Country. Not only did that keep him close to the game, it kept him physically sharp.
“Throwing the ball around with those guys, and getting in their weight room, and just staying ready,” Davis said.
He was there for fifth-ranked Westminster’s only loss of the season, 30-7 to No. 1 John Burroughs in a battle of St. Louis small-school powerhouses.
“Yeah, that was my first game,” Davis said. “I was questioning my coaching career at that point. But we rallied with two wins after that, and I guess I’ll have to catch them next year.”
At first, Davis said the Westminster players didn’t know who he was when he started working with the team.
“No, they didn’t,” Davis said. “I was just a guy. After a few weeks, they figured out who I was. And now they know — now that I signed back with the Rams.”
After spending all of the 2012 season with the Rams, Davis was released Aug. 31 as part of the final cutdown for the 2013 roster. He spent a week on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad and had a few other workouts with NFL teams, including one Monday with the Houston Texans.
Other than that it was Westminster Wildcats football until the Rams called this week.
“I’m glad to be back,” Davis said following Wednesday’s practice. “It’s been a tough (seven) weeks. It feels like it’s been two years, kind of sitting around, waiting, just trying to get back in any way you can. But it feels good.”
Davis would have liked to return under different circumstances than seeing Sam Bradford suffer a season-ending knee injury Sunday against Carolina.
“It’s unfortunate,” Davis said. “Sam’s a good friend and he was really playing well this year. So it’s not an ideal situation. But I’ve got a job to do; I’m ready to get back to work.”
There was a point during the offseason in which Davis was considered the leading candidate to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Bradford. But Kellen Clemens, who will start Monday against Seattle, won that job. Not only did the Rams decide to keep only two QBs, they didn’t sign Davis to the practice squad even though he was practice squad eligible.
“Honestly, at this point that doesn’t even matter,” Davis said. “I’m here. I’ve got to be ready to play on Sunday if called upon. So I’m just trying to catch back up what I missed and be ready to go.”
It’s almost a certainty Davis will be the Rams’ No. 2 QB this time around, at least in the short term, because he knows the offense. Quinn doesn’t.
“Probably the biggest thing to being back here is I know the system,” Davis said. “The terminology’s all familiar. We just kind of hit the ground running and in a way it feels like we never left.”
Quinn is in a much different position. He was a member of the New York Jets until Monday, when he was released. The Rams represent his sixth NFL team since he was selected in the first round of the 2007 draft by Cleveland. His other stops: Denver, Kansas City and Seattle. Being in so many offenses can be both hindrance and help.
“I’ve been in enough systems now, there’s a lot of similarities,” Quinn said. “You can always pull things from here and there. ... It’s like learning a different language. So you’re just learning how to speak a little bit different. Maybe Spanish and Portuguese, where there’s some things that are similar and some aren’t.”
Quinn’s first day on the practice field as a Ram was different from Davis’ first day back. So was Quinn’s Tuesday because Quinn had to go through a workout for Rams coaches; Davis didn’t.
Quinn’s first practice day was all about getting acclimated. He and Davis stayed after practice to do some extra work. When Quinn came in off the practice he studied one of the locker room video boards to check out the team schedule. What’s next?
“Obviously, there’s a lot of different things going on for me, whether it’s personnel or the system, or just everything out around me,” Quinn said. “So, I’m still trying to get my feet on the ground right now.”
How long will it take to get the playbook down?
“I don’t know,” Quinn said, smiling. “I’ll tell you tomorrow. Or the next day.”
The Rams know a little about Quinn because during the 2011-2012 offseason, he was brought in for a free- agent visit. The Rams liked his workout, but Quinn signed with Kansas City instead.
“I liked my visit here and everything,” Quinn said. “Coach (Jeff) Fisher seemed like a great guy. And Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer as well. And Coach (Frank) Cignetti, from the time I spent with him.”
Schottenheimer is the team’s offensive coordinator; Cignetti is the quarterbacks coach.
“But at that point, I had other visits and I wanted to check out other places before I decided on something,” Quinn said. “Kansas City was one of the next places on the list so I went there and it ended up being what I felt like was a better situation for me to try to play.”
Now that he’s here, Quinn could have an opportunity to make his time in St. Louis more permanent because the backup QB situation could be fluid for 2014.
“I don’t know,” Quinn said. “I’m not trying to look out too much further ahead. Especially in this business and the way my year’s been so far. I just try to do the best with each day, and try to get better with each day.”