Bradford starting over again

BY JIM THOMAS
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quarterback Sam Bradford is learning his third offense in three NFL seasons from his third coordinator, no less. But at first blush, the transition may be easier than expected.

"I like the offense that we're running this year," Bradford said Tuesday. "It's more similar to two years ago than to last year. There is some carryover, so I am somewhat familiar with it, which makes it nice trying to learn it again."

Bradford, speaking after the Rams' first minicamp practice of the spring, said there are even some similarities in the language and play-calling from his rookie season of 2010, when Pat Shurmur was offensive coordinator. There is another similarity to 2010, when Bradford was NFL offensive rookie of the year: a position coach.

"I'm glad that we have a quarterbacks coach now," Bradford said, referring to Frank Cignetti. "Obviously, with Josh (McDaniels) trying to do both last year I think it was just a lot for him to handle. Sometimes some of the little things such as drops, footwork, throwing mechanics kind of got put aside as opposed to putting reads and everything in front. ... I think it's going to be great for my development."

Other than some informal workouts without coaches present, Bradford had no time to learn the McDaniels offense until the start of training camp because of the lockout. Even with the abridged offseason schedule this spring under the new collective bargaining agreement, Bradford gets at least a couple of months to learn the system of new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer before the start of training camp.

"To have an offseason program, and to come here in a minicamp and get to have walk-throughs, get to have 7-on-7 things that we didn't have last year that really helps," Bradford said. "The more reps you get at it, the more comfortable we become."

Even though some of the language of the new offense is similar to the Shurmur system, one of Bradford's main goals this spring is getting fluent in that language with Schottenheimer.

"I think that's the biggest thing, to make sure that when we speak we're on the same page and we're talking about the same things," Bradford said.

And with the help of Cignetti, Bradford wants to polish up his mechanics and fundamentals.

"Work on my footwork, work on my release, try to speed things up," Bradford said. "All the little things that maybe I've taken for granted, and took for granted last year, that may have dropped my play."

Instead of taking the next step forward following his strong rookie season, Bradford's play regressed last season for a variety of reasons many of which were out of his control. He knows he has a lot to prove this coming season, or re-prove.

"Obviously last year was very disappointing as far as the injury, my performance," Bradford said. "It just wasn't up to par with what I expected from myself. So there's no doubt that I'm extremely excited to get back out there this year and prove to myself and to everyone else that I can be the type of player I think I can be."

As Fisher re-affirmed in an interview last week, one of the big reasons he took the Rams' job was the presence of a Bradford as a franchise-caliber quarterback. Bradford said he clicked with Fisher right away, dating back to that January meeting when Fisher came to Rams Park while he still deciding whether to coach for St. Louis or Miami.

"I actually do remember that meeting," Bradford said. "I really didn't want to get my hopes up because I knew that if we didn't get him as our head coach I was going to be very disappointed. I knew from the day that I met him that he's the guy that I wanted to lead us into next year and into the future."

After a long period of rest and rehab in the offseason, Bradford has gotten past the high-ankle sprain that sabotaged much of his 2011 season.

"I went to a doctor literally two days after the season ended and he told me not to do anything, really, until March 1," Bradford said.

Bradford was surprised to hear those words. He wasn't expecting to be told to basically stay off the ankle in terms of rigorous activity for nearly two months. It was an indication of the severity of the injury. Once that 'shut-down" period was over, he returned to St. Louis at the end of February and got back in the training room for rehab work with head athletic trainer Reggie Scott.

"I would say it felt 10 times better then, and it's only gotten stronger since I've been here working with Reg," Bradford said.