ST. LOUIS – Cobwebs surrounded Shaun Hill before he finally got a chance to show his stuff in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams quarterback knows all about patience.
The 34-year-old Hill earned his first victory since 2010 last week with a turnover-free outing against the Broncos, and is set to make his second straight start Sunday at San Diego. The last time he did that was four years ago when during a long-term gig with Detroit subbing for injured Matthew Stafford.
So, it won't go to his head.
"Comfortable?" Hill said after practice Wednesday. "Comfortable is not something I've had the luxury of having in the NFL, that's just kind of how my career has gone.
"I think I'm probably best in that role, not exactly comfortable. I'm being honest."
When the Rams (4-6) ended Austin Davis' eight-game run and turned back to the old-timer, Hill had long since recovered from a thigh injury. He made no waves while waiting, a valued trait for any backup in any sport, then came in with no evidence of rust.
"That's the Shaun Hill that we expected to see," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We're going to ride him now."
Carrying a clipboard for eight games was nothing compared with Hill's long-delayed debut. He was an unused second- or third-stringer for his first five seasons with Minnesota and San Francisco before getting his first NFL start in late in 2007 with the 49ers after injuries to Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer.
Circumstances weren't ideal. He went into that start with a broken right index finger that would require surgery.
"I couldn't throw a ball over 30 yards, hadn't taken an NFL snap other than two kneel-downs," Hill said. "I had to come in and perform. If I was going to be rusty, that was the time."
Hill did enough in his debut to beat the Bengals and won his next start, too, against the Buccaneers, and in those games had four TD passes and one interception. He was 5-3 the next season with the 49ers.
Hill totaled 16 starts in three seasons with San Francisco and got 10 more in Detroit in 2010 and for his career has 42 TD passes with 24 interceptions. The Rams hadn't forgotten that production when they needed a backup behind Sam Bradford.
"He's won games before, and he's the ideal veteran backup that come in without a lot of preparation," Fisher said. "I think you saw what he was capable of doing last week."
Before last week, Hill was last seen throwing an interception off one leg near the end of the first half that led to a Vikings touchdown in the opening 34-6 loss.
He confessed to celebrating like a rookie after burning the Broncos secondary with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt. Hill was 20 for 29 for 220 yards with a passer rating of 102.7.
"I came over to the sidelines and told the guys, 'Look, I understand you're supposed to act like you've been there before but it's been a long time," Hill said.
"So, yeah, I did get a little excited that time. Most of the time I stay relatively even-keel but touchdowns are just fun."
The Rams anticipate more pressure defense this week at San Diego than the Broncos brought. Hill said the Chargers' scheme is similar to teams they faced earlier when he was watching closely.
"We've got to make it tough on him," Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. "He's definitely capable. You put a good team around him and he can hurt you."
The Rams practiced indoors due of high winds. Fisher backed off players midway, directing what essentially was a walkthrough, and nine players did not participate including tight end Jared Cook (back), guard Davin Joseph (general soreness) and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (foot).
Fisher anticipated many on the list to be on the field Thursday.