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  • Bradford Makes a Good Impression ..

    BY JIM THOMAS
    05/03/2010

    For five practices over three days, Sam Bradford called the play in the huddle, stepped up to the line and (drum roll, please) lined up under center.

    Let the transition begin, from spread offense at Oklahoma to pro-style quarterback with the Rams. By all accounts, it was a good start for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

    "Sam did a terrific job," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Sunday after the conclusion of the Rams' rookie minicamp. "All the reasons for drafting him were obvious.

    "He's very smart. Got a great command of the huddle. He's got great attention to detail. By the end of the weekend, he was repeating things like he got 'em in the installations. And he's very talented. So you take the talent and then the 'work hard' and I think he progressed well in five practices."

    There is much to learn and many hurdles to cross. But Bradford's Rams journey began with him lining up under center — over and over and over again. By design, every snap Bradford took over the weekend was under center as opposed to the shotgun formation.

    "The focus in this camp was to do pretty much everything under center, so we could work on the one-, the three-, the five- and seven-step drop," Shurmur said. "As time goes on, what naturally happens is they get smoother and smoother and smoother."

    At first blush, Bradford looked surprisingly comfortable with his footwork and his dropbacks. About 85 percent of the rookie minicamp was open to the media (all but about 90 minutes of Friday morning's practice). And in that time, Bradford had only two botched center exchanges.

    Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. It's not as if Bradford never lined up under center. He said the Sooners were under center about half the time during his freshman season.

    "That's one of the things that the media kind of skews a little bit, because it's not that big of a deal," Bradford said. "If you've never taken a snap from under center, I mean, I could see where the footwork obviously would take some time getting used to. But if you've spent any time under center. ... I've taken snaps under center since I was in third grade."

    So give Bradford an early checkmark for his work under center over the weekend. But that's just one layer of his multi-faceted learning curve.

    In the week between the draft and the minicamp, Bradford spent hours on the phone with Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl. They talked about formations, protections, the cadence, even how everyone would line up in the huddle.

    "A lot of the little things that I don't think everyone sees," Bradford said. "You don't think about it because everyone thinks, 'Oh, it's second nature.' But when you haven't done it, and you don't know how the Rams do it, it's a huge deal. Especially for a quarterback."

    Obviously learning the language of a new offensive scheme is a big step.

    "The verbiage is really important," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "There's a lot of words he's got to spit out in that huddle in a short amount of time."

    And once the play is called, timing is very important, particularly in the passing game. On Sunday, the Rams worked almost exclusively on red zone offense (and defense) in "team" periods.

    "I was really anxious to see the way he would react in the red zone," Spagnuolo said. "Now when we were down there doing the seven-on-seven (red zone work) with no linemen in front of him, I reminded him that down here you can't hold on to the football. Everything happens a little faster."

    Bradford got the message. During the full 11-on-11 red zone session later in practice, he looked sharp and decisive.

    "I thought he got it out pretty quick," Spagnuolo said. "He had one nice throw down here in the corner." (On a fade route to wide receiver Dominique Curry, who was at the minicamp as a tryout player.)

    Even with that success, Bradford knows the speed of the game picks up in two weeks, when he starts practicing with the veterans. It will speed up again once preseason play arrives, and then finally once the regular season starts.

    "I felt like I was in the right place most of the time with the ball," Bradford said. "But even at the speed we were playing this weekend, I was a half a count or a count late. It may not look like it, but I know it when I let it go, if I can get it out just a half-count quicker, it's that much better."

    In the five practices, Bradford threw hundreds of passes over about a 50-hour period. But his surgically repaired throwing shoulder showed no ill effects from the workload.

    Of course, there's one area of Bradford's game that can't be addressed until the games begin. Namely, how his throwing shoulder will respond to that first hit. And the second, and the third. ...

    "I think it'll be cool, and hopefully it'll kind of calm everyone down because I think everyone's freaking out about it like, 'If his shoulder gets touched is he going to, like, die?'" Bradford said, chuckling. "It's going to be OK. I'm going to be able to take a hit."

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  • RockinRam
    Bradford Starts Strong
    by RockinRam
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer



    Of all the lessons Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford took from his first five professional football practices last weekend, perhaps the most important thing he learned is that he now knows what he doesn’t know.
    “I realize this is kind of the beginning of the work process for me, and I think one of the great things about this weekend is I saw just exactly how far I have to go,” Bradford said as the Rams wrapped up camp on Sunday. “We just put in a slight portion of the playbook. I felt like I handled it, but there’s so much more to come. I really need to make sure that I’m prepared by the time I come back here in a couple weeks.”
    Indeed, the Rams’ rookie minicamp resembled more of an introduction, a Rams Football 101, if you will, than anything like what a NFL Sunday will be.

    For Bradford and the rest of the team’s rookie class, adjusting to the pro game is a long and arduous process. But there’s little doubt that a quarterback has the steepest and most mentally demanding of all tasks.
    In the week leading up to the minicamp, Bradford spent plenty of time on the phone with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Richard Curl. Those sessions were meant to prepare Bradford for all that goes into being a NFL signal caller.
    Things like knowing the verbiage, spitting out the plays quickly and making sure everyone is doing his job on a given play. Taking command of the huddle was another issue the Rams coaching staff wanted to see right away.
    “I think Sam did a terrific job,” Shurmur said. “This is the first time he’s hearing things and all the reasons for drafting him were obvious. He’s very smart, got a great command of the huddle. He’s got great attention to detail. By the end of the week, he was repeating things like he got them in the installations and he’s very talented. So you take the talent and the work hard and I think he progressed well in five practices.”
    Shurmur said the Rams even went so far as to try to find ways to throw Bradford off by adding installations with different plays with different protections, route combinations and progressions.
    In other words, pretty much everything a quarterback has to go through mentally in a game and find a way to execute, the Rams asked Bradford to do.
    “There are always things to work through and that’s why you repeat things, but I think he handled the workload well,” Shurmur said. “Really, we tried to mentally stress him a little bit to see how he’d handle things. He handled that well and he was able to bring the stuff from the meeting to the practice field. That’s the most important thing.”
    One area that put no stress on Bradford was something that some might not have expected him to do so well.
    Some believe that Bradford comes from a strictly shotgun-formation oriented spread offense at Oklahoma where he rarely took snaps under center. ...
    -05-07-2010, 12:07 PM
  • Nick
    For Bradford, it's time to play
    by Nick
    For Bradford, it's time to play
    BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2010 12:00 am

    The numbers are legit. Quarterback Sam Bradford really can earn as much as $86 million over the next six years.

    So these aren't just the St. Louis Rams anymore. It's Sam's Club. A fitting name for a franchise that looks as if it's about to be owned by a member of the extended Wal-Mart family (Stan Kroenke).

    But now, Bradford starts to earn that money. On Saturday afternoon, about an hour after signing his contract, he began in earnest the task of living up to that mega-deal.

    Pressure? What pressure?

    "You just have to go play football," Bradford said after his first NFL training camp practice. "If you start worrying about all those other things, then it can really affect your performance. And I always put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed as it is.

    "So I don't think that's going to change. I have very high expectations for myself and this team this year. I think that's really what's going to drive me to work to succeed."

    On the first full-squad practice of camp, A.J. Feeley opened as the No. 1 quarterback, as expected. But there are millions of reasons why Bradford will be the Rams' starting quarterback. Such as the $50 million in guaranteed money in his contract. And the $78 million basic value of the contract. And even the $86 million maximum value of the deal if certain incentives are met.

    The task at hand is getting Bradford ready to play ASAP. He missed three practices total on Thursday and Friday while his deal was getting hammered out. What did he miss?

    "Well, a bunch of reps," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "Probably getting his arm loosened up. And basically what he's doing over there right now, which is just timing with the wideouts."

    As Spagnuolo spoke, Bradford was getting in extra work throwing to a couple of receivers after practice.

    "But the one thing about how the league is structured right now is we get those OTAs and minicamps," Spagnuolo said. "So he's had most of what we did today. He'll get caught up."

    To a large degree, it's up to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach Dick Curl and, of course, Bradford to get the No. 1 overall draft pick ready for the regular season.

    "He did such a good job in the spring, I'd like to see him be able to build on that," Shurmur said. "His challenge is to be ready to play Day One, and if that works out, great. If it takes a little bit longer, so be it."

    During the nearly six-week break between the end of the Rams' spring practice period and Saturday's start of camp, Bradford took some homework back to Oklahoma in the form of practice tapes, the playbook and notes he took during the spring practices....
    -08-01-2010, 08:02 AM
  • RockinRam
    Rams’ Bradford prepares for first big test
    by RockinRam
    Posted Aug. 13, 2010 @ 10:14 a.m. ET
    By Eric Edholm






    ST. LOUIS — The rookie quarterback who has enough money to buy a chunk of his new team isn’t above running a lap when the offense makes a mistake.

    Meet Sam Bradford — $50 million man and football junkie.

    The top pick in April’s draft has been charged with turning around the state of a 1-15 Rams franchise that last season bottomed out after setting the league on fire at times during the glory days of 1999 to the middle of the next decade. Playing at a first-rate program like Oklahoma prepared him for a lot, but the biggest hurdle of his football life lies ahead of him.

    Right now, Bradford knows his place. He’s the second-string quarterback behind A.J. Feeley, just trying his best to find a place on this team in transition without attracting too much extra attention to himself. If you ask Bradford, he’d try to tell you he’s just one of 80 players in camp trying to carve out a role.

    “We ask everyone on the team that,” Bradford said of his penalty lap. “If you mess up, to take a lap. I messed up, took a lap, and that’s part of it.

    “It keeps everyone accountable for their actions. It makes sure everyone is on the same page.”

    Everyone watching Bradford thus far is on this page: He really can throw the football.

    After his breakout performance of camp, a scrimmage at nearby Lindenwood University last week in which Bradford barely let a ball hit the ground, the stakes have risen even more. There hasn’t been this much anticipation for a preseason opening game in St. Louis in a long time. Bradford will make his debut Saturday against the Vikings. Although Feeley will start, head coach Steve Spagnuolo said Bradford would get time with the first team.

    “Everybody should have an opinion (on when Bradford should start),” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll do what we think is right and we’ll do it based on what’s (happening) on the field.”

    It’s only a matter of time before Bradford takes over the starting role for good. Usually the concern with a rookie quarterback is that coaches don’t want to crush a kid’s confidence by throwing him to the wolves before he’s ready. But with Bradford, he looks mature beyond his years and in control of the action, even when things don’t go perfectly.

    “He’s definitely more than capable, mentally and physically, of handling it,” C Jason Brown said. “The work ethic, discipline, toughness, responsibility, ability … the kid has it all.”

    Spagnuolo said that Bradford has more than met his expectations in most areas of his game, and in some cases exceeded them.

    “He sees the field really well,” Spagnuolo said. Things are starting to … the game is slowing down. (But) this is practice now. I should say, the practice is slowing down for him. We’ve...
    -08-13-2010, 10:28 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Bradford Had Plenty Of On-The-Job Training
    by r8rh8rmike
    Bradford had plenty of on-the-job training

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 10:35 am

    As he was about to enter his first NFL season last summer, Sam Bradford took the diplomatic route whenever asked about playing right away. He'd do everything possible to be ready on opening day, but that was up to the coaches, and he'd do whatever was best for the team.

    But now the truth can be told. Now that he was in for all 1,053 offensive plays in all 16 games of the 2010 Rams season, there's no substitute for experience. Right?

    "No doubt," Bradford said. "I wouldn't have it any other way, to be honest. I think it was the best thing for me to get out there, to learn in live situations. You just learn so much more than you do standing on the sideline. In the film room, I feel like going through what I did this year will make me that much better going forward."

    The Rams learned a lot about Bradford as well.

    "Outside of his physical, God-given capabilities, I think you have a strong leader," running back Steven Jackson said. "Someone now that has 16 games, 16 starts under his belt. He's taken some good hits. I think the shoulder is not a question anymore, and I think his capability of being a winner is not a question anymore."

    Indeed, Bradford has shown he can lead, he can win, he can take a hit.

    His athleticism and mobility was surprising to many. He never made excuses, and was secure enough in his skin — and confident enough in his talent — to admit when he made a mistake or could have done something better.

    "Sam obviously did a terrific job, especially in the fact that it's a demanding position for a young guy to come in and play," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "And yet he seemed to make it look easy at times. But I'm sure if you asked Sam, he'd probably tell you he wished he played better in a number of games because that's how he is. He's a competitive guy. But it was good to have him. I know that."

    The Rams didn't baby Bradford, either. That was obvious on opening day against Arizona when he threw 55 passes, the third-highest single-game total in franchise history. By season's end, he had thrown 590 times; only Indianapolis' Peyton Manning (679) and New Orleans' Drew Brees (658) threw more in the NFL.

    "I felt like the coaches trusted me more at the end of the year," Bradford said. "I felt like they put a lot more on my plate, which is something that I take a lot of pride in — the fact that I was able to progress in this offense and I was able to handle more things and we were able to do more. We probably did more than actually I would have expected to do, and I take a lot of pride in that. Hopefully that continues."

    As for what Bradford needs to work on? Anything and everything.
    ...
    -01-06-2011, 09:23 PM
  • sosa39rams
    Sam Bradford's Progress
    by sosa39rams
    In the days leading up to training camp, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo consistently maintained that if the season started today, veteran A.J. Feeley would be the starter.

    About a week into camp, Feeley continues his hold on that spot as he still gets the majority of the repetitions with the first team.

    But in those same days before camp, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur laid out a basic outline of the many things rookie quarterback Sam Bradford would need to do in this camp to wrest away the top job at start on Sept. 12 against Arizona.

    “I think you have to do it in practice prior to doing it in a game,” Shurmur said. “We’ll evaluate everything from calling the plays to managing the huddle to executing at the line of scrimmage, the audibles, the alerts, the overs, and just basic general efficiency. I think that’s what we’re going to be looking for.”

    Nine practices into the full squad portion of this camp, things with Bradford appear to be right on schedule. Although he hasn’t been perfect – what rookie is? – Spagnuolo has seen nothing that would indicate Bradford isn’t on course to put checks next to each of Shurmur’s aforementioned objectives.

    “There’s nothing to discourage me,” Spagnuolo said. “You know, like all the quarterbacks out there he had some good throws and some bad ones. I do like the fact that when he makes a mistake, boy, he’s got some… he’s not very happy and he shows it. That’s a good thing. He’s got some feisty to him. I think that’s good in a quarterback.”

    The challenge for Bradford as the Rams steamroll toward preseason games and even Saturday night’s scrimmage at Lindenwood University is to begin cutting down on those mistakes and start finding ways to speed up his reads and production.

    “I think the more I’m out there, the more repetitions I get, the more comfortable I become,” Bradford said. “I think the more situations I’m put in, every day we have a special category, we go through something new. Today we had a blitz period. So the more things that I’m exposed, to the more comfortable I become.”

    Bradford is getting plenty of repetitions though those reps are coming in a variety of situations and with all three of the offensive units, mostly the second team.

    Back in the spring when the Rams were going through Organized Team Activities and the offseason program, Bradford found himself adjusting to some of the basics of the offense.

    Things like terminology, footwork, taking snaps and commanding the huddle were at the top of the agenda. Those were all things Bradford embraced and excelled at according to teammates and the coaching staff.

    If nothing else, it gave them a lot of hope that he could translate it to the field and hit the ground running once camp began.

    “His challenge is to be ready to play Day 1, and if that works out, great,” Shurmur said....
    -08-05-2010, 09:35 PM
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