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The Huddle: Rams prepare for Case Keenum and Minnesota Vikings

Rams defenders discuss facing their former teammate, quarterback Case Keenum, when they play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Rams are in the playoff hunt. Visit “The Huddle” for the latest in news, notes, conversation and opinion.

This is notable

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If Todd Gurley gets stuck in gridlock on the 405 Freeway, a near-certainty in Los Angeles, the Rams running back has a second mode of transportation that he can rely on to get him moving — quickly.

Gurley ran faster than 20 miles per hour in a victory last Sunday against the Houston Texans, clocking in a 20.62 mph — even faster than the previous week when he ran 20.35 mph against the New York Giants.

Gurley is the only running back in the NFL to reach 20 mph the last two weeks.

Receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins also clocked faster than 20 mph against the Giants, at 20.43 and 20.33, respectively.

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Is Jared Goff keeping company with … Tom Brady?

After passing for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against the Giants and Texans, Goff can become the second quarterback in NFL history to reach those marks in three consecutive games … if he manages to hit those numbers Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The other quarterback to accomplish such a feat? The five-time Super Bowl champion, Brady.

In 2007 Brady passed for more than 300 yards and at least three touchdowns with no interceptions against the Redskins, Dolphins and Cowboys.

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Social status

“Hey @NCAA, It sure seems like the president bailing you out of an international jail system could be an improper benefit.”

- Johnny Hekker, @JHekker

Even the Rams’ punter is buzzing about the UCLA basketball players who returned from China, with the assistance of the president, then confessed and apologized for shoplifting while abroad.

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Hekker’s tweet was in jest, but wasn’t too farfetched when it comes to the NCAA.

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The former USC quarterback chimed in last Sunday when his old Trojans teammate turned in a personal-best performance for the Rams at the Coliseum.

Woods caught eight passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, including a 94-yard score. It was the third-longest reception in Rams history.

Barkley and Woods shared a few career days together at the Coliseum, including in 2011, when Woods became USC’s all-time receptions leader and Barkley threw a school-record six touchdowns in a lopsided win over Colorado.

Opponent hotline

“It was good. I know he was getting his shot and I wanted to be there for him in whatever way I possibly could, so I think our relationship was great. That was a long time ago. I’m trying to focus on now and I’ve answered a few of these questions and I answered a lot of them last year with you guys, so don’t forget that we got two really good teams coming in 7-2 here.”

— Case Keenum

The Vikings quarterback answered three questions about his relationship with Jared Goff during a teleconference with Los Angeles-based reporters this week before he issued a somewhat-friendly reminder: There’s more at stake when the Rams and Vikings play than the never-ending storyline about him and Goff, the former No. 1 pick in 2016 whom Keenum was tasked with mentoring as his replacement.

Hot off the presser

“I can’t tell you everything because that would certainly be an advantage. A lot of those words are from the players, from the coaching staff. There’s a lot of people that are involved that I think you try to have fun with some of those code words and the communication. I think Jared’s done an excellent job with that and some of them mean something, some of them don’t. Guys have fun with it. You try to keep it relevant and make sure that whatever it is, there’s at least some association and you try to be intentional with those things. But, having seen that, what other words did you hear? Go ahead and see if you guys can decipher what all those mean. I still don’t even know.”

— Sean McVay

Sound FX and NFL Films mic’d up Goff against the Texans — “Wilson, Hoosier, Elvis, Elvis, Elvis! Tupac, Dusty, Obama, Obama, Obama! Ric Flair!” — revealing some of the second-year quarterback’s audibles. He seems to have a thing for former presidents, WWE stars and musicians, a different take from Peyton Manning’s signature call for “Omaha!” and Ben Roethlisberger yelling, “Dilly! Dilly!”

McVay joked about the names, but seemed a little uneasy that Goff’s audibles were broadcast across social media.

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“He’s basically like a second quarterback. If your quarterback can’t get the job done he’ll get the job done for you and put your team in great field position. I got to the league and I’m just like a punter making $18 million, like, what is this? But, man, he deserves everything plus more. Just to see how we did on offense and he can change the field around. He’s a great playmaker. He’s just making fantastic punts. It’s like, ‘Aw, he’s just a punter’, but like just to see the situations he can put you in … ”

— Todd Gurley

Hekker was among the Rams’ most valuable players last season when the offense struggled to move the ball.

It’s been a quiet 2017 for the three-time Pro Bowl selection, but he punted four times against the Texans, averaging 51.3 yards per punt.

Gurley is among teammates who is continually impressed with Hekker’s skill set … and apparently his bank account.

Hekker signed a two-year extension this season worth $10 million in guarantees.

Around the NFC West

The Rams are 7-2 and sit atop the NFC West through 10 weeks.

The division appears to be a two-horse race with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks are 6-3 and will play their second prime-time game in two weeks when they host the 5-4 Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. The Seahawks recently have suffered a rash of injuries, including the loss of cornerback Richard Sherman for the season.

The 4-5 Arizona Cardinals will play at Houston. And after an inspiring performance by San Francisco 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin in the team’s first victory of the season, the 49ers will get a much-needed Sunday off.

My Thiry

Case Keenum vs. Jared Goff.

No one could have seen this coming after they combined for a tumultuous 4-12 season for the Rams in 2016, with Keenum going 4-5 before former coach Jeff Fisher replaced him with Goff, who finished 0-7.

But a season later, with new coaches, new systems — and for Keenum, a new team — they are both 7-2.

Keenum is riding a five-game win streak, throwing seven touchdowns, with five interceptions, in that span.

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And Goff has led the Rams on a four-game streak, passing for nine touchdowns, with an interception.

Keenum and Goff still exchange text messages, and by most accounts have always been friendly.

But it’s no secret that Keenum would like nothing more than to beat his former franchise, and the kid-quarterback who replaced him.

It’s also no secret that Keenum can sometimes let his emotions get the best of him. Remember the season opener last year, when he said he was “seeing ghosts” and trying too hard in a dreadful loss to the 49ers?

Here’s to thinking Keenum might try a little too hard to prove to his former team and current squad, with Teddy Bridgewater waiting on the bench, that he’s not just a backup quarterback anymore.

Rams win and improve to 8-2.

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