Rams confident Bradford is healthy
BY JIM THOMAS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
At the NFL scouting combine one month ago, Rams general manager Billy Devaney said the team planned to have an independent third party — a "neutral" doctor, if you will — check out quarterback Sam Bradford's surgically repaired throwing shoulder.
Those plans have been scratched.
"At that point, (the shoulder) was such a big question mark," Devaney said Wednesday. "Since then, we've talked to so many people that have looked at him from other teams. And our doctors — they've gone over him with a fine-tooth comb — we're completely satisfied. We don't need a follow-up."
Devaney said he and coach Steve Spagnuolo have done some checking on their own over the last several weeks to get medical opinions from other voices. Devaney didn't specify which teams, but Devaney and Spagnuolo have worked with several other teams over the years, and as Devaney put it: "You have friends around the league."
Bradford underwent a reconstruction of the AC joint surrounding his shoulder in late October, with the procedure performed by noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews.
"They just went in and with like a nylon braid pretty much put the clavicle (collarbone) back in place and re-secured the joint," Bradford said at the scouting combine.
Bradford injured the shoulder twice during the University of Oklahoma's 2009 season.
"It was a grade 3 (shoulder) separation," Bradford said.
In some cases even after a second separation, surgery isn't required. Rest and rehab can get a shoulder back to health. But in this case, Bradford decided not to take any chances. If he had done nothing but rest and rehab, there might have been even more doubts about the shoulder during the pre-draft process. Having the surgery — and having it performed by Andrews — would lessen those doubts.
(In fact, there was an undercurrent at the combine that the injury was so minor, relatively speaking, that some medical officials privately wondered if surgery was even necessary.)
But Bradford decided he would be better safe than sorry in choosing surgery.
"From what I've heard from doctors, after the second (injury), for my long-term health, if I wanted to continue playing football and get stronger in the weight room, I needed to have the surgery," Bradford said.
Before the surgery, Bradford approached San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith for advice.
"I know that he had the same procedure by Dr. Andrews," Bradford said. "From what I understand, it was pretty successful. He just told me what to expect from the rehab standpoint. Kind of what he went through when he went through the whole process, trying to decide if he should have surgery or not."
Fast forward to the end of March, and Devaney said the Rams have been "absolutely" reassured that Bradford's shoulder is fine. "Everybody is completely satisfied with him," Devaney said.
Bradford's impressive performance at his pro day only underscored those feelings.
"He looked as good as advertised," Devaney said. "You wanted to see if he still had his fastball; if his throwing motion was the same; if he was throwing free and easy, and he answered all of that."
Devaney knew how accurate Bradford is; that's easily detectable on tape. But Devaney's a firm believer that if you're checking on a quarterback's velocity — his arm strength — you've got to see it live.
Even so, the manner in which Bradford was accurate Monday was impressive.
"There weren't receivers reaching back, or high, or low," Devaney said. "It was just dead on. I want to say that 47, 48 throws out of the 50 he made were exactly where the ball was supposed to be."
Even with the sparkling pro day and the good medical reports, the Rams still want another look at Bradford and have scheduled a private workout with him April 19 in Norman, Okla., just three days before the start of the three-day draft.
"To be honest, it's not going to be a butt-kicking workout when we go back in," Devaney said. "We want to make sure there hasn't been any setbacks, that the shoulder is still good. That close to the draft, one last time, just throw the ball around a little bit, make sure he's still good to go."
But there will be one difference with the private workout as compared to Bradford's pro day. On Monday, Bradford ran his own script of passes, meaning he could rehearse them over and over beforehand. And in theory, play to his strengths as a passer. On April 19, the Rams will provide the script — and Bradford won't see an advance copy.
"It's not like we're going to send him what we're going to do," Devaney said. "He can just adjust when we get there."
MCCOY'S PRO DAY
The Rams didn't attend University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy's pro day Wednesday because of some logistical and scheduling complications. Instead they have scheduled a private workout with him April 8 in Austin.