Against the Cleveland Browns during the third preseason game, Sam Bradford dropped to the ground and showed signs of pain following a rather light and non-violent collision with a Browns defensive lineman.
Bradford favored his left knee in the moments following the play—the same knee that required surgery for a torn ACL last October and ended his 2013 season.
It was a frightening image, but early reports were positive. Bradford walked to the locker room on his own, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported shortly after that the Rams had "dodged a bullet," indicating that all was fine.
On Sunday, the tone changed dramatically. Reports began to surface that Bradford's injury was in fact serious, and Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch eventually confirmed that Bradford's ACL suffered damage that will require surgery, which will end his 2014 season.
Losing a starting quarterback is obviously a devastating blow to any team and immediately puts the season in jeopardy, so the Rams will have to carefully evaluate their options at quarterback moving forward.
Shaun Hill, a 34-year-old veteran, was signed in the offseason to be the team's No. 2, and he was brought in for a reason.
Hill has experience as a starter. In Detroit, the stepped in for 10 games to cover for the injured Matthew Stafford and finished the year with a decent 81.3 quarterback rating. He's not going to carry an offense on his shoulders, but he can manage the system and make intelligent decisions as a passer.
Hill is probably the best option at this point, but there are some negatives. He hasn't started a game in four years and has not attempted a pass in the regular season since 2012. At 34 years old, there's no telling if he's even still capable of tapping into the skills we witnessed in 2010.
Additionally, he has been rather disappointing this preseason and has completed less than 50 percent of his passes, which could force the Rams to explore other options.
The only in-house option that has any real allure is Austin Davis, who is in his third NFL season. Davis has been inconsistent since joining the NFL and has no regular-season experience, but his preseason play has been phenomenal.
Davis was simply electric against Cleveland. He completed over 62 percent of his passes for 198 yards and two scores. With Davis under center, the offense was moving the ball with ease.
However, Davis' stellar play against backup defenders hardly solves St. Louis' issue at quarterback.
And that's it. Those are St. Louis' two options—a veteran who hasn't started since 2010, or a youngster who has yet to attempt a regular-season pass.
If the Rams are unsatisfied with either, the only other option would be to acquire outside help.
Mark Sanchez is stuck behind Nick Foles and Matt Barkley on the Philadelphia Eagles' depth chart. Sanchez has been a punchline in the NFL for the past few years, but there's no denying the Jets won games with him under center.
Sanchez' last season with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (St. Louis' current coordinator) also happened to be his best NFL season to date—he passed for over 3,400 yards with 26 touchdown passes and added six more touchdowns on the ground.
If Sanchez can come to St. Louis and run Schottenheimer's offense with as much success as he experienced in 2011, it would certainly be enough to make the Rams offense formidable once again.
If that's not an option, the Rams could always pursue other backup quarterbacks with serious talent and starter potential, such as New England's Ryan Mallett, Kansas City's Chase Daniel, or Washington's Kirk Cousins.
However, all three of the aforementioned quarterbacks would likely cost a fairly high draft selection. As a result, if the Rams trade for any of those guys, they better have some confidence in that player's ability to be a long-term starter, as opposed to just a one-year Band-Aid.
Whatever the Rams do, they'll have to do it soon. If they move quickly enough, the new quarterback could be in St. Louis in time to take some reps in the final preseason game.
The safest choice would be to stick with Hill as the new starter. However, Rams fans are sick and tired of "safe." They want results, and they want it now. The current regime understands this, and that could ultimately influence the decision.
Whatever happens, the quarterback spot will be an interesting position to watch in the upcoming weeks.