Bradford confident heading into second start

By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
1 hour, 29 minutes ago

ST. LOUIS (AP)—What impressed St. Louis Rams players most about Sam Bradford’s NFL debut was how totally in charge the No. 1 overall pick looked.

“You want your quarterback to have command of the game and he has that,” wide receiver Mark Clayton said Wednesday. “Very even keel, you can’t get to him.

“As soon as he gets hit in the face he’ll get right back up and that’s what you want.”

Not too banged up, either. Monday for Bradford felt much like a Sunday at Oklahoma.

“Besides a couple of bruises here and there, I felt really great,” Bradford said. “Today I came out and felt really good. I really wasn’t any more sore than I would have been after a college game.”

After the first week, the first rookie quarterback to start for the Rams since Bill Munson in 1964 is living up to the billing. Fellow rookie Rodger Saffold, a second-round pick and the starter at left tackle, said Bradford has always projected control.

“He always seems calm, that’s just the type of guy he is,” Saffold said. “‘Are you an actor? No. Would you tell me if you were an actor? No.’ It makes things easier knowing he’s not flustered.”

All Bradford lacks is a victory for a franchise hungry for success.

“When we get down to the red zone or the fringe area, we’ve got to find a way to get touchdowns and not field goals,” Bradford said. “But I thought we moved the ball fairly well and I think we feel fairly confident going into this Sunday.”

Bradford appears to have lost no confidence from the opening 17-13 loss to Arizona in which the Rams largely relied on his arm. He was 32 for 55—tied for third in attempts in franchise history—for 253 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo is hopeful Bradford, set for his first NFL road start, won’t have to throw quite so many passes Sunday at Oakland.

“From Game 1 to Game 2, I’m talking about the whole team, you’re looking to see where the jump’s going to be. I hope the jump is not 75 passes instead of 55, but just in the quality of play.

“We’re looking for the whole team to do that.”

Spagnuolo said players had done a good job of moving on from the opener, along with the multitude of setbacks from the past. The Rams recovered four fumbles against the Cardinals and didn’t score a single point, falling to 1-16 the last two seasons and 6-43 the last three years.

“Nobody’s discouraged. We’re all disappointed and I hope still upset,” Spagnuolo said. “There has to be a little bit of anger there, but there’s anger in me. This league is all about the reward and the reward is winning.”

Bradford knows he made some bad throws, in particular Adrian Wilson’s interception in the first half—a pass he self-critiqued as “a little late, left it a little behind and he made a great play.” He knows he made plenty of good ones, too.

And, so far he hasn’t been bamboozled by exotic defenses he’s been warned to expect. He said Arizona offered only a few new wrinkles.

“To be honest, no, there wasn’t really anything that just caught me or this offense off guard,” Bradford said. “I felt like we were very well-prepared.”

Clayton was the main target last week with a career-best 10 receptions for 119 yards after only three practices following a trade from Baltimore. Already, Bradford is getting questions about the possibility the Raiders might double-team his brand new go-to guy.

“If they do that, it just means other guys have to step up and make plays for us,” Bradford said. “We can’t shy away and let them take him completely out of the game.”