- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jeff Fisher keeps repeating the mantra: We’re going to be fine, it’ll be business as usual with no decrease in production.

The St. Louis Rams coach has no other choice but to press on without Sam Bradford and place total trust in journeyman Shaun Hill.

“He actually completed some passes today,” Fisher said after the first practice without the first overall pick of the 2010 draft and with the 34-year-old Hill under center. “He actually knows where to go with the football, believe it or not.”

It’s a very small favor, but at least this year the Rams (7-9) have a little time to adjust to the hard reality. They probably have a better fit to plug into the offense, too.

When Bradford tore his left ACL in Game 7 last season, there was an abrupt shift to a ground-heavy offense under backup Kellen Clemens. They’ll still emphasize handoffs to Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham and third-round pick Tre Mason. But Hill also will get a chance to air it out a bit to the likes of newcomer Kenny Britt and improving youngsters Tavon Austin, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey.

Hill’s first start since 2010 will be against the Vikings, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland back in 2002. He didn’t throw a pass last year as the backup to Matthew Stafford in Detroit and totaled just 16 passes the last three years.

The last extended action came in 2009 when he made 10 starts and threw 16 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions.

“Life of a backup, you might not go in for a few years, but you have to stay ready,” Hill said. “At the same time, it kind of feeds your fire.

“It makes you want to get back out there, and when the chance comes, you’re excited and you’re ready for it.”

Things to watch for from the Rams, chasing their first winning season since 2003:

WHO’S NEXT?: Not long after Bradford got the bad news Sunday, the name game of speculation began. For the fantasy crowd, any backup with a track record in the NFL or college, or with a past relationship with Fisher or offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, was fair game.

Fisher keeps shooting down rumors and reports the Rams are shopping for upgrades over Hill and untested backups Austin Davis and Garrett Gilbert, the latter a rookie. Anyway, it’s way too late to plug in a brand new starter.

“You know what I like is, ‘According to sources close to the situation, we’re da da da da da..’” Fisher said. “I love that, OK? We’ve not had any discussions with anybody.”

MINI-MITE: The Rams traded up to get diminutive Austin with the eighth overall pick last year, and Year 1 was a mixed bag. Austin had a handful of brilliant highs mixed with stretches of low productivity. He was sidelined by injury for the first time in his career, missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain.

He’s healthy again, plus now he knows the playbook. Last season, he confessed, everything looked like a foreign language.

Story Continues →