Rams will keep Fitzpatrick as starting quarterback until Bulger is healthy

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams are sticking with rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite his five-interception game on Sunday.

Interim coach Joe Vitt said Monday that Fitzpatrick, the only Harvard quarterback in NFL history, will keep the job as long as Marc Bulger is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Bulger missed his third game in Sunday's 27-13 loss and may miss the rest of the season.

"If Marc can get healthy, Marc's got the job," Vitt said. "This is Marc's job."

It's definitely not Jamie Martin's job. The 35-year-old backup will remain a second-stringer.

"He's not out of the picture, but we're going to go with Fitz until Marc is ready to go," Vitt said.

There's good reason for letting the kid play, especially now. The loss officially eliminated the Rams (5-8) from playoff consideration after the team made it five of the previous six seasons.

Players know they'll have to let Fitzpatrick learn on the job.

"Like I told Fitz, 'You're our guy,"' wide receiver Torry Holt said. '"You're going to be with us next week, you have to put it behind you and you have to come back out and you've got to roll.'"

Fitzpatrick was the NFC player of the week after replacing an injured Martin at Houston on Nov. 27, when he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters in a come-from-behind victory. In that game, he led the Rams back from a 10-point deficit in the final half-minute.

In his first two career starts, though, he has no touchdown passes. The high points have been a pair of touchdown scrambles.

"Nobody comes in and throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns every single game," Fitzpatrick said. "This is a learning experience for me and I have to make sure not to make the same mistake twice."

Fitzpatrick, who was 26-for-45 for 235 yards Sunday, wasn't totally to blame. His receivers dropped their share of balls and Isaac Bruce slipped on one of his interceptions.

"As an interim coach, there's a lot of things I worry about and things I can control and you're always thinking," Vitt said. "I don't worry about him."

"I think he's tough, I think he's mentally tough, he's going to work hard to prepare himself and his teammates still believe in him."

Fitzpatrick said the worst part of the game was disappointing his teammates.

"I'm pretty good at staying even keel," he said. "They're all playing hard, wanting to win the game, and at times I didn't help their cause."

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