With Rams starter A.J. Feeley injured for the all-important third preseason game and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford getting the nod against the supposedly potent Patriots, some (e.g., us) feared a St. Louis shibacle on Thursday night for the first overall pick in the 2010 draft.
It didn’t happen.
Bradford lit up the New England starting defense, completing 15 of 22 passes for 189 yards and two scored in two quarters of action.
“It was a blast out there tonight,” Bradford said after the game, in comments distributed by the team. “Tonight was really the first time that I had fun. It felt like I was doing what I am used to doing, which is moving the offense up and down the field and scoring points. Anytime you can do that, it’s a blast. . . . [W]atching the film of the first two games, I felt like I was in the right place with the ball the first two weeks. I never really felt like I got myself in that rhythm, I felt like I was always trying to rush through things. Tonight, before I went out there, I just took a deep breath and said, ‘Stay in rhythm, do what you do.’ I knew I was capable of it and think I got some throws under my belt early and got in a rhythm and just felt good out there.”
Bradford succeeded in large part because the team’s offensive line hasn’t been able to give the team’s quarterbacks time to operate efficiently and effectively. On Thursday night, the blockers stepped up.
“I felt our offensive line did a great job in protection tonight with some of the looks they gave us,” Bradford said. “I thought those guys did a great job in getting to the right places, making sure everything was picked up. At the same time I think I was smart with the ball when they did decide to pressure us and I felt like I got the ball where it needed to be.”
Still, coach Steve Spagnuolo stopped short of declaring Bradford the Week 1 starter.
“We will watch the film tomorrow,” Spagnuolo said. “[W]hat I am real interested in watching is when they did pressure [him],
how did he handle it. Did he go to the right place with the ball? I
think statistically he was really pretty good so obviously there had to
be some good ones in there but I am always anxious. With a young
quarterback, you really want to see how he handles when people come at
him. He can go throw his normal reads he has been doing that in college,
we didn’t invent football here in the NFL. They rush for him either
three deep or two deep he has a good grasp of that but in this league
defensive coaches are going to find ways to bring people together in all
different kinds of ways that I have never seen before and that’s where a
rookie quarterback has to get to and after I watch the tape I will have
a better idea if he handled those situations real well.”
But for the play on which receiver Donnie Avery potentially was lost for the season, we have a feeling that Spagnuolo will like what he sees when he watches the film. And that before the end of the weekend we’ll all learn what many are assuming — that Bradford will enter his first rookie season as the Rams’ starter.