Fisher quashes rumors about why he benched QB, says Hill will start next week if healthy


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ST. LOUIS — Rams coach Jeff Fisher emphasized Monday that quarterback Shaun Hill remains his starter, dismissing speculation about why he yanked him at halftime of the St. Louis Rams' opening blowout loss to Minnesota.

Fisher said Hill could still start this week at Tampa Bay, but was day to day with a left quadriceps injury. Fisher added he's never played games with quarterbacks, and that Hill was "clearly ahead" of untested Austin Davis.

"I'm telling you the truth, I've never messed around with the quarterback situation in my entire career," Fisher said. "I'm speaking truthfully, he had a quad strain and I took him out of the game. Period."

Fisher said Hill wanted to keep playing but agreed with the coach's assessment that he not risk aggravating the injury. The Rams had two quarterbacks active, so Hill remained in uniform in the second half to be available for snaps out of the shotgun if Davis got hurt.

The coach said Hill was trying to throw the ball out of bounds but didn't have the strength because of the injury on the pivotal interception by Josh Robinson late in the first half that led to a touchdown that put the Vikings up 13-3.

"Had he stayed in the game, I thought we would have had a chance," Fisher said.

Hill made his first start since 2010, inheriting the job after Sam Bradford's second season-ending left knee injury in nine months.

Hill fed the rumor mill after the game by being extremely guarded about how or when he was hurt, and by at times standing far away from the action, helmet on and arms crossed. Fisher speculated Hill was injured fleeing the pass rush at some point.

"It was not a contusion, it wasn't impact," Fisher said. "It started to get sore, I think, earlier in the game as he was escaping some pressure."

Offensive lineman Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick of the draft, also seemed to position himself far away from the backups. The Rams used Robinson at both guard and tackle in the preseason, perhaps hindering his development, and he had a handful of snaps on special teams before stepping in for guard Rodger Saffold in the fourth quarter.

"I'm not aware of that," Fisher said. "No, he wasn't sulking. We have open locker rooms, you can go ask him yourself."

After the game, Fisher called out several players by name before finally stopping himself. In addition to Hill for failing to throw the ball away on the pivotal interception, he singled out tight end Lance Kendricks for two false starts, special teams stalwart Chase Reynolds for roughing the punter, wide receiver Brian Quick for a facemask penalty and defensive end William Hayes for losing the edge on Cordarrelle Patterson's 67-yard touchdown run.

"We were competitive for a while there but things got out of hand and the wheels fell off," defensive end Chris Long said. "I've been in a lot of crappy games, and that was one of them."

Fisher said Long was still undergoing tests on his ankle and that Hayes would start at left end if Long isn't ready. He believed Saffold, who had an apparent neck injury, had checked out fine for concussion-like symptoms.

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