He could get back in the lineup Saturday – with a chance to start, too.
Starter Jared Goff is in concussion protocol after being knocked out of last Thursday’s 24-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks with a head injury. The rookie No. 1 overall draft pick participated in team meetings and a light workout Monday, and interim coach John Fassel said Goff is day to day.
Fassel said a decision regarding Goff’s availability against the 49ers would likely come by Thursday, when the Rams hold their final practice during the short holiday week.
Similar circumstances propelled Mannion into his first live action last season. Mannion was 6-of-7 passing for 31 yards in relief of Nick Foles against the Cincinnati Bengals after Case Keenum suffered a concussion in the previous game. The former Oregon State standout believes he has improved immensely since then.
With Keenum’s contract expiring at the end of this season, the Rams could start Mannion in Goff’s place, hoping to get him reps and find out whether he is a viable option behind Goff moving forward.
”It would be good for the team to get a look at Sean and see what he could do if pressed into service by necessity,” Fassel said. ”Case would understand, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Mannion, a 2015 third-round pick, played well in the preseason this year, completing 39 of 60 passes for 325 yards and three TDs with one interception in three games.
”From the draft all the way two years ago I feel like I’ve made huge strides,” Mannion said. ”Without getting a chance to play maybe it doesn’t show, but I certainly feel like I’ve been getting better and better each day and each week. I’m always working on my game.”
As the inactive third quarterback for the last 13 weeks, Mannion used an early workout on game days to throw more than 100 passes before helping Goff, Keenum and the offense on the sideline during the game. Those efforts cap a week’s worth of preparation that Mannion says he treats as if he will start. Being elevated to the No. 2 role for a week would only reinforce those habits.
”Like anybody, you want to get an opportunity to play and being the backup puts you closer to being in the game,” he said. ”But all year, I have prepared as though I’m the one playing, I’m the one starting and the one guy that has to go in and win games, so that doesn’t change.”
The Rams have already made some other moves with an eye toward the future, deciding to exercise caution with defensive end Robert Quinn by placing him on injured reserve last week and signing four players to the practice squad this week.
Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, one of the most senior players on the Rams, understands why the organization might want to see what it has in a youngster like Mannion.
”We really have nothing to lose at this point,” Saffold said. ”Sean has done great in practice. He’s shown awesome skills. He understands the offense. If that’s the ride that they intend on going, they got good reason for it.”