Mike Martz called for a long pass. This wasn’t a shock to one of the NFL’s most pass-oriented offenses. The only person surprised was former Missouri quarterback Kirk Farmer.
After struggling in the early part of camp, Farmer entered the St. Louis Rams’ preseason game Friday night against Oakland as the fourth-string quarterback. When Farmer’s performance was over, he had gone eight-of-13 for 130 yards and a touchdown and had sole possession of the No. 3 job behind Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger.
With 10:56 to go in the fourth quarter, coach Martz told Farmer to replace his competition for the No. 3 quarterback spot, Greg Zolman. Martz immediately called for a deep throw to rookie receiver Kevin Curtis. Martz also gave Farmer a little advice before he went in.
“Coach called for a bomb on the first play and he said if I don’t complete it, don’t bother coming back to the sideline, so there was a little pressure there,” Farmer said.
Farmer’s first pass fell incomplete, but his next four were on target, including a 20-yard completion to Dane Looker and a 34-yard hookup with Curtis. Farmer finished the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Cleeland.
Farmer said throwing his first NFL touchdown pass was a milestone in his career.
“It was one of the best times I’ve had in football,” Farmer said. “All of my teammates were jumping around and giving me high fives. It was amazing.”
Martz was so impressed with Farmer’s effort that he named him the No. 3 quarterback after the game.
“I was impressed with the way he dealt with the pressure. He made a strong statement on his behalf in this game,” Martz said. “Those are always fun stories. Those are feel-good stories — to have a kid come in like that and do as well as he did.”
Competition for a job is nothing new to Farmer. A year ago, he was competing with redshirt freshman Brad Smith for Missouri’s starting position. Farmer would eventually lose the job to Smith, but he received another chance in the NFL when St. Louis signed him to a three-year contract on April 27.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he sent letters to every NFL team in January asking them to take a look at Farmer. Pinkel did not get to see Farmer’s performance against the Raiders, but said he was happy to hear Farmer played well.
“We worked that night until I think 10:30-10:45, so I heard about it the next morning and was very excited and happy for him,” Pinkel said. “I’m a Kirk Farmer fan and I hope he makes it. I certainly think he has a good opportunity to do that.”
The Rams signed Zolman, a first-year player who ended last season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, a couple days before training camp and he quickly moved past Farmer on the depth chart. Farmer said he was disappointed when he was dropped to No. 4, but he tried not to let it affect his game.
“I thought I was going to get cut,” Farmer said. “I was really just hoping for another shot and when I got it I had some success.”
— Associated Press contributed
The move back to the No. 3 position gives Farmer a little more security, but he said he has to stay focused on earning his job.
“I am still trying to go out and just do what I can every day,” Farmer said. “Hopefully, I can get the job done.”