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Rams keeping a close eye on Bradford as prospective No. 1

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  • Rams keeping a close eye on Bradford as prospective No. 1

    BY JIM THOMAS [email protected] > 314-340-8197


    ORLANDO, FLA. — Steve Spagnuolo has studied a lot of film on quarterback Sam Bradford.

    "The one thing that jumps out is his accuracy," Spagnuolo said. "He's extremely accurate. I was talking to a couple other (NFL) head coaches about him, and that's the first thing they say, too."

    Last month at the NFL scouting combine, Spagnuolo came away from the Rams' allotted 15-minute interview session impressed with the University of Oklahoma quarterback.

    "Everything you hear about him, that's said, it's legit," Spagnuolo said. "He walks into a room, you can see he's a quarterback. That was impressive to me." ShopSTL Marketplace

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    There were about 10 Rams officials on hand, including Spagnuolo, general manager Billy Devaney, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and several scouts when Bradford walked into the combine meeting room in Indianapolis. There were floodlights in the room as well because the Rams were taping the interview.

    "There were a lot of bodies in there, in kind of a small room," Spagnuolo recalled. "It was a little intimidating, or it could've been for a 22-year-old guy. And yet, he walked in and did not seem to be —— wasn't rattled at all. I think that's a good sign."

    So the Rams can mark accuracy (from film) and presence (from that meeting room) on their Bradford checklist. But the "big enchilada" in terms of evaluation comes Monday in Norman, Okla. That's when Bradford has his pro day at the University of Oklahoma.

    It marks the first time the Rams, or any other NFL team, will see Bradford throw since the season-ending injury to his throwing shoulder last fall for the Sooners. And it's the best way to gauge Bradford's arm strength.

    "You've got to get that live in my opinion," Spagnuolo said Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast. "When you're on film, is the wind blowing against him or with him? You don't really know. So I think you've got to assess (arm strength) live."

    Spagnuolo also will get another gauge of Bradford's "presence" — this time on a football field instead of the more controlled setting of the combine meeting room. Spagnuolo will see how Bradford reacts with his teammates and the coaches who are on hand. He'll study Bradford's body language.

    "He's in his own setting now," Spagnuolo said. "I'm really interested in that. I'm going to try to grab him by myself at some point, probably early in the morning, just him and I. See if I can pull a couple other things out of him, find out a little bit more. And just come away with an overall assessment."

    League sources told the Post-Dispatch last week that Devaney and Shurmur traveled to Pensacola, Fla. — where Bradford had been training and rehabbing — to meet with Bradford and his doctor.

    But save for that 15-minute session at the combine, Spagnuolo hasn't spent any time with Bradford, who seemingly is the growing favorite to be taken No. 1 overall by the Rams in the draft.

    The Rams and Bradford will get a lot more face time in the coming weeks, starting with Monday's pro day. Bradford also will be making a "top 30" visit to Rams Park on April 12. In addition, Spagnuolo strongly hinted that the Rams will have a private workout with Bradford sometime between Monday's pro day and the first day of the draft April 22.

    Bradford's session Monday will consist of throwing only. He will do no running, no lifting, no other drills. Even if Bradford shines Monday, the Rams probably want to see him throw again at a later date.

    "You know, when I was in college and had to get ready for a test, I'd still be studying past midnight 'cause I just figured it was every little bit you could get in," Spagnuolo said.

    Similarly, the Rams would like to do as much homework as possible on Bradford, watching every throw possible from his surgically repaired shoulder before investing tens of millions of dollars.

    "Let's assume it's a 'blowout' workout," Spagnuolo said. "But yet, you want to see a couple weeks later, is it still — you know — did (the shoulder) react properly? … I could see us still doing it even if it was a great workout."

    Because of his defensive background, Spagnuolo is leaning more on Devaney, Shurmur, and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl in terms of evaluating mechanics, fundamentals, etc., of the quarterback position.

    He's also picking the brains of head-coaching counterparts in the league who have offensive backgrounds, including Philadelphia's Andy Reid, Minnesota's Brad Childress and Denver's Josh McDaniels.

    "The guys I respect and that know quarterbacks," Spagnuolo said. "They don't have to tell me (anything), but most of the guys are great. They're pretty open about it."

    Spagnuolo spent eight years as an assistant on Reid's staff; for most of that time Childress was also on that Eagles staff.

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Sam Bradford gets down to business with Rams
    by MauiRam
    By Bryan Burwell

    It was Saturday morning at Rams Park, and Day 2 of the Sam Bradford Experience moved along rather quietly. The second day of the rookie quarterback's pro football life was turning out to be exactly what it needed to be: strictly football without so much as a hint of unnecessary media-circus insanity.

    On Day 1, things were a bit different. After his first professional practice — at rookie minicamp, mind you — the NFL's No.1 overall draft pick was greeted by a media crush of over 40 assorted reporters, TV cameramen and photographers. ESPN was there, and so was every local TV station, radio station and newspaper within 50 miles of St. Louis, not to mention a reporter or two from Oklahoma.

    Now just for the record, this will not be the last of the days when Bradford creates a breathless media buzz. At least let's hope so. The giddy, nervous, hopeful, urgent and silly updates will continue flowing out of Rams Park on a daily basis as we all attempt to document the progress of what everyone hopes, prays, begs and pleads (and that's just the casual Rams fan) will be the start of a brilliant NFL life for the kid drafted to grow into a franchise QB who can lead the Rams back to football respectability.

    But on Day 2, the phenom-crazy atmosphere had been replaced by a sedate dose of normalcy. Friday's overflow media crowd had dwindled to a decidedly more intimate gathering of eight reporters. And that was a good thing because it's already starting to feel like this journey is going to be one that has a regulator on it that will prevent it from turning into an out-of-control circus.

    And that's why I call it an "experience," rather than an "experiment", because experiment suggests that the trip Bradford is about to embark on is a flighty game of chance. Bradford's future, which is tied in directly to the future of this organization, is quite predictably being studiously orchestrated from the very start by coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    If you know anything about Spags, he's not really big on letting things "just happen."

    To be kind, he's an extremely organized man.

    To be perfectly blunt, the man's an organization-obsessed creature who never leaves anything large or small to chance. He wants you to know that he definitely does have a plan for Bradford's development, but you should never confuse that plan for a timetable that will accurately predict what day Bradford will ultimately take over as the starting QB ("I think you have to earn that," he says).

    But ask him how Bradford will get to that point, and he'll lay it all out for you.

    "When Sam got in here on Thursday, I sat him down and told him there are three structures in this league when it comes to developing a quarterback, and I've studied them all and they...
    -05-02-2010, 12:01 AM
  • Azul e Oro
    Bradford Focused on Preparation
    by Azul e Oro

    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    Tuesday in the NFL is the player’s respite, his opportunity to step away from the game for 24 hours before the week really gets going on Wednesday.

    Unless, of course, you’re the quarterback in which case the chances for down time are few and far between. And if you’re a rookie quarterback, Tuesday might as well be Groundhog’s Day because it’s probably going to be pretty similar to every other day of the week.

    Such is life for Sam Bradford as the Rams’ starting quarterback as he found himself spending plenty of his Tuesday at the Russell Training Center. Of course, there wasn’t much leisurely about the visit.

    “He’s into backgammon, so we played a little backgammon,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said, laughing. “No, we sat and watched some tape. I tried to give him a little bit of the defensive side of it, what I think they might be doing or thinking, what I thought he could expect from…being a rookie quarterback in the first game, from a defensive standpoint.”

    If ever there was a coach to give a rookie advice about what to look for and expect from an opposing defense, it’s Spagnuolo.

    While it’s in the job description of defensive coordinators to make life difficult for all quarterbacks, it’s particularly fun when the quarterback on the other side is a rookie who has yet to see the speed and diversity of NFL defenses in a regular season game.

    One reporter even asked Spagnuolo how “diabolical” he likes to get when he sees a young signal caller on the other side.

    “I didn’t use that word,” Spagnuolo said. “I would have if I had thought of it, but that’s exactly what I was trying to convey to Sam, that I think the mindset of any defensive coordinator that’s going to face a rookie quarterback is going to make it as tough and confusing as he can. Usually that means not doing things that they’ve already seen on film and make the quarterback make adjustments on the sideline during the game. So we’ve certainly anticipated that.”

    Indeed, there will be no bigger challenge for Bradford in his first career NFL start Sunday against Arizona than the exotic and multiple defensive looks and blitz packages that the Cardinals are sure to throw at him.
    Arizona works out of a base 3-4 defense but will regularly move around, switch fronts and disguise blitzes so as to create confusion for opposing offenses.
    Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is known for his ability to push the pocket and safety Adrian Wilson has long been a thorn in the side of the Rams.

    These are just a couple of examples of what Bradford will be dealing with when he steps on the field on Sunday.
    “We’re taking a look at that right now,” Bradford...
    -09-08-2010, 04:21 PM
  • Nick
    Sam Bradford to play at least one half
    by Nick
    Sam Bradford to play at least one half
    Associated Press
    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    ST. LOUIS -- Sam Bradford has the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback job this week. Now he's got to produce.

    The top pick of the draft gets his first pro start in place of veteran A.J. Feeley, sidelined with a sprained right thumb, but with no guarantees beyond Thursday night's game at New England. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said after practice Tuesday that he expected Bradford to play at least the first half, and maybe more depending on how much time the Rams have the ball.

    "I know the spotlight's on Sam right now and everybody's anxious to see him in there with the first group with Steven Jackson in the backfield," Spagnuolo said to reporters after practice. "I'm just as anxious as you guys are."

    Bradford has struggled thus far, going 12 for 27 for 81 yards and no touchdowns. Playing in hard rain in the last preseason game at Cleveland, he passed for only 24 yards.

    He's still adjusting to being under center and has bobbled a number of snaps. Spagnuolo characterized his play thus far as "up and down."

    "Obviously, I want to come out and have a strong showing," Bradford said. "I want to show the guys on this team that I can play. I think this is a great learning opportunity for me and this offense, but most of all I really want to come out and help this offense win a football game."

    Spagnuolo gave the starting job to Feeley entering camp and could restore him for the preseason finale, giving no guarantees beyond that to Bradford beyond saying he'll start the player who gives a team that went 1-15 last year its best chance to win. Feeley missed both practices of a short work week, but anticipated he'd be able to grip the football soon.

    "Every time they go out there, they're being evaluated," Spagnuolo said. "We'll see at the end of it."

    Still, nobody expects the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and the player the Rams signed to a six-year, $78 million contract to be a backup for long.

    It'll be Bradford's first start since last October when his bid for a second straight Heisman Trophy ended with a shoulder injury against Texas.

    "My expectations are extremely high," he said. "Obviously, I want to come out and perform at an extremely high level. I don't know what the fans should expect."

    Spagnuolo said earlier in the week that having Jackson in the backfield for the first time would be a "comfort" to Bradford. The Rams are searching for a backup behind the bruising two-time Pro Bowl player, with reserves totaling 70 yards on 42 carries.

    "Somebody has to surface there," Spagnuolo said. "In the knock on wood event that we need a running back, we've got to have somebody...
    -08-24-2010, 08:02 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Bradford To Start For Now
    by r8rh8rmike
    Bradford to start for now

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    With a brace on his right thumb and hand, quarterback A.J. Feeley won't be doing any arm-wrestling soon. Or throwing a football.

    "He won't play on Thursday," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

    Which means quarterback Sam Bradford will make his first start in a Rams uniform Thursday night against, gulp, the New England Patriots.

    "We're going to go against a really good football team on Thursday," Spagnuolo said. "Sam will be in with the starters because of the situation with A.J. And Steven (Jackson) will be in there with him. I'll be anxious to see how he reacts to that."

    Because of the short work week, Bradford and the rest of the Rams have only two practices to prepare for the Patriots before traveling to New England. One of those practices took place Monday afternoon, with Bradford getting the lion's share of the reps.

    "It's a mindset now," Spagnuolo said. "Certainly Dick (Curl) and Pat (Shurmur) will work with him."

    Curl is the Rams' quarterbacks coach; Shurmur is the team's offensive coordinator. For starters, the coaches will script the first 15 plays of the game for Bradford and the offense.

    "He's got to know those plays," Spagnuolo said. "There's a little bit of an adjustment when you're coming in as a starter, and when you're coming in second or third series. But I don't think Sam will see it any differently."

    With Bradford in the lineup Thursday, it's easy to make the assumption that the starting job is his for, oh, the next decade or so. But to borrow one of Spagnuolo's pet phrases, the Rams' head coach isn't ready to go there.

    Not yet, anyway.

    Spagnuolo pointed out that Bradford wouldn't be starting Thursday if Feeley were healthy.

    "A.J.'s the starter right now (if healthy); Sam's the backup," Spagnuolo said. "A.J. has a little better command of the offense. If you based it on two games, A.J.'s been able to move the football team when he's been in there. That's really what we want.

    "Sam has a little bit of a ways to go in that. But at some point, if we feel the guy that is behind the starter can do a better job, to me, that's when you make the move. I don't know if that'll be next week. If it'll be three weeks. If it'll be four weeks. Sam still has a lot of things (to learn)."

    In short, Spagnuolo is sticking with the original plan on Bradford: he won't start ahead of a healthy Feeley until the coaching staff feels he gives the team its best chance to win.

    "I think A.J.'s doing really a pretty good job," Spagnuolo said. "I mean he certainly did the other night (against Cleveland)."

    The Rams did not make...
    -08-24-2010, 10:03 AM
  • clarasDK
    Ridin' Road to No. 1 With Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
    by clarasDK
    (Edit: the source was not

    by: Anthony L. Gargano

    found on

    ST. LOUIS -- The day that would shape the man's future moved mercifully toward finality as he dashed from the darkened team headquarters through the steady spring rain to his SUV in the parking spot labeled "Head Coach". Following months of torturous deliberation that sent him and the staff cross country and back, sifting through endless possibilities in the name of due diligence, they had made their decision.

    Nothing left to do now but embrace hope and kiss it up to the fates.

    Entranced by a lonely, wet highway and the rhythmic movement and hum of overworking windshield wipers, the man momentarily slipped into reflective thought midway into his 40-minute drive home to the city. He didn't appear to notice the muffled radio program in the background that talked of the night's events -- quite enthusiastically, by the way. He figured the town would happily comply with their selection, and that was always welcome, given the importance of public opinion to the industry.

    Still, though, the fickle nature of it meant that if somehow the 22-year-old quarterback who played two games and change last year didn't become the franchise as planned for the St. Louis Rams, everyone would forget how they felt at this moment and call ingloriously for his hide.

    The man could handle the torchbearers. The notion of failure, he couldn't stomach that. He didn't sacrifice his life for the coaching calling to lose. Without kin in the game, he landed his own sprawling office with the two desks -- one for the many business details of coaching football in the NFL, the other stationed in front of a large flat screen for the "fun stuff," the actual football element, film study and game-planning -- on the second floor of Rams Park by working rungs, beginning way back in 1983.

    Graduate assistant at Massachusetts. Intern with the Redskins. Defensive line and special teams coach at Lafayette. Defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Connecticut, before the Huskie ascent to the Big East. Special teams and defensive line coach for the Barcelona Dragons. Scout for the Chargers. Defensive backs and linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Maine. Defensive backs coach at Rutgers. Defensive backs coach at Bowling Green. Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Defensive assistant for the Eagles.

    In 2001, he rose to defensive backs coach for the Eagles. Then linebackers coach in 2004. Then defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2007. Buoyed by his unit, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year. He rebuffed head-coaching offers that offseason, and stuck around one more season, out of loyalty and the handsome raise that amounted into the first real money he earned in 25 years in the business.

    -04-26-2010, 11:41 AM