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For Jared Goff, a waiting game with no guarantees

For Jared Goff, a waiting game with no guarantees
"I’ve progressed ever since I got here, and I don’t think I’ve ever really plateaued or gone backwards," Rams quarterback Jared Goff says. "I think I’ve gotten better." (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Their offense is ranked last in the NFL. The starting quarterback ranks near the bottom in completion percentage and passer rating.

But the Rams are 3-2 and show no signs of playing No. 1 pick Jared Goff.

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The Rams are preparing for a road trip that will take them to Detroit on Sunday and then on to London to play the New York Giants before returning home with a bye.

They will not play again until Nov. 6 against the Carolina Panthers.

That would seem a natural demarcation point in the season, especially if the Rams return from their extended road trip with two defeats.

While Goff sits, young quarterbacks are starting – and in some cases flourishing – in the NFL.

Philadelphia's Carson Wentz, Dallas' Dak Prescott, Denver's Paxton Lynch, Cleveland's Cody Kessler and New England's Jacoby Brissett are members of a 2016 draft class that have started one or more game.

Is Goff frustrated?

"Every situation's different," he said Wednesday after practice. "All these guys that are doing well right now, I'm very happy for. Most of them, I'm good friends with. They've done a good job."

The rookie quarterbacks got opportunities because of injuries suffered by starters on their teams. Or, in in Wentz's case, an injury on another team that precipitated a trade.

The Rams, of course, chose Goff over Wentz in April after trading to the top of the draft.

Goff trained with Wentz before the draft and said he talked to the Eagles quarterback a few weeks ago. He did not seek advice.

"I don't think I'm going to watch any of his film any time soon," he said, jokingly, "but he's done a good job."

So Goff continues to watch and wait as Case Keenum's backup.

Keenum has passed for four touchdowns, with five interceptions, and leads an offense that is averaging only 284.2 yards and 16.4 points a game. The Rams have particularly struggled inside the 20-yard line, as they did in last week's 30-19 loss to Buffalo.

Keenum's 57.9 percent completion percentage and 75.5 passer rating are fourth-to-last in the NFL among qualifying leaders.

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Goff, 21, struggled with turnovers and other issues during exhibitions, but Coach Jeff Fisher has said that he is improving despite limited opportunities during practice.

Offensive coordinator Rob Boras said Wednesday that Goff has made strides in the classroom and was no longer asking rookie questions.

"He's starting to ask those more advanced, if you will, say the 301- or 401-type question," Boras said. "For me, it starts there. Then, obviously, just watching him going against our defense and his footwork in the pocket and eliminating the turnovers."

Goff continues to prepare as if he were going to start. During games, he said he analyzes defensive tendencies that might help Keenum when he comes to the sideline.

During meetings and practices, he has worked to make concepts and plays "second nature," he said.

"I've progressed ever since I got here, and I don't think I've ever really plateaued or gone backwards," Goff said. "I think I've gotten better."

The Rams are preparing to face a Lions team that features quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1  pick in the 2009 draft.

Stafford started immediately for a team that finished 0-16 the season before.

"Every situation is different," Stafford said during a conference call with reporters. "Every team is different that the player comes to, what those expectations of that team are, all that kind of stuff.

"It's all different. What the player is showing in practice, all that. That all goes into it. And in the end it's a coaches' decision. I think it's worked well both ways for certain types of guys."

Stafford is off to a good start for the Lions, who play host to the Rams at Ford Field.

He has completed 68 percent of his passes, 10 for touchdowns, with four interceptions and has a 99.6 passer rating.

That's much different than Stafford's rookie season, when he completed 53 percent of his passes, 13 for touchdowns, with 20 interceptions in 10 games. He had a 61 passer rating.

"It was a tough situation," he said. "Being a rookie in this league playing quarterback is not an easy thing and I was just happy to get some experience early."

Perhaps before the season is over, Goff will have the opportunity to do the same.

Kershaw connection

Stafford grew up and was high school teammates with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

So Stafford was an interested observer Tuesday night when Kershaw pitched against the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

The Dodgers led, 5-2, when Kershaw left with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. All three Washington runners ended up scoring to tie the score, but the Dodgers came back for a 6-5 win.

"He pitched a great game," Stafford said. "Really tough and gritty like he always is."

Stafford and Kershaw played on the same youth sports teams and at Highland Park High in Texas.

Kershaw was selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft. Stafford played college football at Georgia and was selected No. 1 overall by the Lions in the 2009 NFL draft.

"We both have busy schedules but we try to shoot each other a text every once in awhile," Stafford said. "I try to catch most of the games I can when he's throwing."

Quick hits

Cornerback Dwayne Gratz practiced for the first time since the Rams claimed him off waivers to add depth to a secondary thinned by Trumaine Johnson's ankle injury. Gratz played three-plus seasons for Jacksonville. "They just told me come in and get ready to play," he said of the Rams. "Learn the system and do what you can and see where it takes you." Gratz is wearing jersey No. 21, the number worn by Coty Sensabaugh, who was released Saturday and signed with the Giants…. Injury report: Defensive linemen William Hayes (ankle), Robert Quinn (shoulder) and Michael Brockers (hip), offensive lineman Cody Wichmann (ankle) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (ankle) did not practice.

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