STEVE OVERBEY, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Shaun Hill has been here before.
A career backup quarterback, Hill is certain he will be able to successfully run the St. Louis Rams’ offense after Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury during the weekend.
“This is not anything new, it’s not anything different,” Hill said. “I keep the same mindset I’ve always had.”
Hill has been forced into an extended relief role for the second time in his 13-year career. He replaced Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford for 10 games in 2010 when Stafford went down with a shoulder injury.
“I’ve always gone into every week as a backup as if I was going to play,” Hill said. “That’s the only way I know how to do it.”
Hill is 13-13 as a starter including a 3-7 mark in relief of Stafford.
St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher has the utmost confidence in Hill, who Fisher said looked good handling the offense in practice on Monday.
“He’s ready to go, he’s excited about this opportunity,” Fisher said. “He’s a competitor and he knows what he’s doing. He will make every opportunity count.”
Hill’s teammates also feel confident in their new field boss.
“He’s a smart quarterback, he knows the system,” wide receiver Tavon Austin said. “He’s been in the league a while. There’s nothing he can’t handle.”
The 34-year-old Hill has hit on 591 passes in 954 attempts for 6,381 yards with 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions during stops in Minnesota, San Francisco, Detroit and St. Louis.
Hill admits he is a little rusty. He attempted just 36 passes as a backup in Detroit the last three seasons, including just two snaps last year — taking a knee twice in a season-ending 40-10 win over Green Bay.
But Hill is ready to embrace his new role. He was signed to a one-year deal by the Rams in March with this scenario in mind.
“I’m cranked up and ready to go,” he said.
When the Pittsburgh, Kansas, native takes the field for the season opener Sept. 7 against Minnesota, it will be his first start in 1,342 days. His last start came in the final week of the 2010 season.
Bradford tore a ligament in his left knee in the first quarter Saturday and will be out the entire campaign. It was the same injury that sidelined him the last nine games of the 2013 campaign.
The first overall pick in the 2010 draft, Bradford has been plagued by injuries throughout much of his career. Over his five years, he has missed 31 of 80 starts.
“I feel terrible for Sam,” Hill said. “I was really looking forward to seeing him play this year. He was going to light it up. But the nature of the business is ‘next guy up’ — and that’s me.”
The Rams have a history of overcoming quarterback injuries. In 1999, Trent Green was lost for the season during the third exhibition game. Kurt Warner stepped in and guided the team to a Super Bowl title.
The Rams released 10 players on Monday and are down to 79 with four more cuts needed by the Tuesday 3 p.m. deadline.
Among those released was wide receiver T.J. Moe, a standout at the University of Missouri.
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