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Future still isn't now for Rams' Jared Goff

Future still isn't now for Rams' Jared Goff
With the 49ers coming to town on Christmas Eve, it's a prime opportunity for Jared Goff to win his first game. (Rick Osentoski / Associated Press)

It's only a midweek, bye-week practice for a team that has lost three games in a row and slipped below .500.

The coach has made it clear that there will be no change at the sport's most important position.

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Yet all eyes — and no doubt a phalanx of cameras — will be on rookie quarterback Jared Goff on Wednesday when the Rams practice at Cal Lutheran.

Goff, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, is expected to take the majority of first-team snaps during a full-squad workout for the first time since the Rams traded up 14 spots to select him.

After the Rams lost to the New York Giants in London on Sunday, Coach Jeff Fisher said Case Keenum remained the starter despite having four passes intercepted in a 17-10 defeat that dropped the Rams' record to 3-4. Fisher reiterated the point during a news conference Monday when he noted Goff was "going to be our starter" in the future.

With rookie quarterbacks flourishing for other NFL teams, the future is apparently not now for Goff.

But Keenum knows and has run the offense for seven games, so he will mostly step aside Wednesday and early next week as the Rams provide Goff with a developmental opportunity.

He took all of the snaps during rookie camp in Oxnard in May, but Keenum handled virtually all of the starter's reps during organized-team activities and training camp.

Goff showed flashes of arm strength and advanced footwork during exhibition appearances, but more often looked overwhelmed while committing turnovers.

He was inactive for the opener against the San Francisco 49ers and in six games since has stood on the sideline.

Before the Rams left for a 10-day trip that included losses at Detroit and to the Giants, Goff said he had progressed.

"Every day, every week has got more and more natural," he said, "and more and more second nature."

That same week, offensive coordinator Rob Boras said Goff's improved knowledge and understanding was evident in questions asked during meetings.

"The easiest way to understand if somebody knows it is when they can regurgitate it back to you," Boras said. "And he's able to do that right now and, again, ask some of those questions where you have to, yourself, look up at the sky and try to think 'OK, that's a good one," and try to give him the right answer."

Since that day, Goff has celebrated his 22nd birthday and watched Keenum struggle  late. In each of the last three games, the Rams failed to tie or win the game when they had the ball late in the fourth quarter.

It reached a nadir Sunday when Keenum's signal to receiver Brian Quick got lost in translation, and Keenum's pass into the end zone was easily picked off.

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Keenum has passed for eight touchdowns, with 10 interceptions, including three that were returned for touchdowns. The Rams rank 30th in total offense, averaging 307.6 yards a game. They are 25th in passing (227.7) and 29th in rushing (79.9).

The Rams rank 11th in total defense, giving up 343.3 yards a game. They are 14th in passing defense (239 yards per game) and 15th in rushing defense (104.3).

"We're going to work hard over the next couple of days, as a staff — looking at what's been good and what's not, where we need to improve," Fisher said Monday.

The Rams practice Wednesday and then will break for the rest of the week, so Goff is expected to get reps with starting receivers Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick.

But Fisher has said the bye week "is about resting, it's about recovering," so rookies Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas and Nelson Spruce will also get extended opportunities.

"We're going to work some of the younger guys in there," Fisher said, adding, "We just have to get more production out of the whole group."

Quick hit

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson and defensive tackle Michael Brockers are among the starters expected to benefit from the bye week. Johnson has been sidelined two games because of an ankle injury. Brockers sat out against Buffalo because of a hip injury and was sidelined for all or part of the last two games because of a thigh issue. Offensive guard Jamon Brown was sidelined against the Giants because of a hand injury. "We have to get some guys back, which we will," Fisher said. "We have a chance to be extremely healthy, if you compare the roster after this bye week to the start of the regular season, so that's encouraging."

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