St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford watches as teammates run plays during the first day of organizaed team activities at Rams Park in Earth City, Missouri on June 5, 2014. UPI/Bill Greenblatt By BILL GREENBLATT
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Sam Bradford knows how well he's feeling. The St. Louis Rams quarterback doesn't care what anybody else thinks about his surgically repaired left knee — or a career that's yet to take off.
The team concluded workouts Thursday and Bradford headed for home in Oklahoma City, confident he'll be back as good as ever when training camp begins in late July, and that he belongs in the upper echelon at his position.
"I think you have to believe in yourself and you have to be confident," Bradford said. "I don't try to compare myself to anyone," then added to reporters, "You guys do a great job of that."
The scrutiny is just noise. The Rams re-affirmed their commitment to Bradford before the draft and then backed it up by waiting until late in the draft before taking a potential future arm.
"To be honest, I just don't pay attention to any of it," Bradford said. "I don't read the paper, don't listen to the radio, don't watch the news. I know the preparation and time I've put in, I know I'm doing the right things."
Bradford was the first overall pick in 2010 but has yet to be a difference-maker for a franchise that won seven games each of coach Jeff Fisher's first two seasons. He firmly believes the Rams are poised to be a contender and Fisher said there's "no doubt" Bradford has Pro Bowl potential.
"He's the vision, the decision-making ability, the arm strength and mobility to put up great numbers," Fisher said.
Guard Rodger Saffold was drafted a round after Bradford in 2010 and calls his teammate underrated.
"He's become more of the commander in chief more and more as the years have gone by," Saffold said. "I've seen him grown up."
Bradford has been eased back into the mix during workouts and exceeded expectations as a full participant this week. He has logged long hours at Rams Park since getting hurt in Week 7 last season, getting just a few weekends off, and was looking forward to a "nice, little break," with time for golf.
"He's going to get away a little bit," Fisher said. "He needs to get away, and he'll come back ready to go."
Fisher thought both Bradford and left tackle Jake Long, also coming off knee surgery, should be ready for the preseason.
The Rams were a lot more ground-based after Bradford's injury last year and that's the usual M.O. of a Fisher team. They'll probably seek a balanced attack with offensive upgrades designed to make Bradford's job easier.
"The big thing for us is we're trying to create competition at all spots," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "You'll see different guys working with the ones."
Offensive lineman Greg Robinson was the second overall pick and will be a starter at guard. Third-round pick Tre Mason could challenge running back Zac Stacy, who just missed 1,000 yards his rookie year. Veteran wide receiver Kenny Britt could find new life re-united with Fisher.
"We're going to pound it at people until they can stop it," Bradford said, but added, "We're not going to be scared to drop back and throw it."
Fisher reminded players that they couldn't win the NFC West on the practice field in June, and before cutting them loose reminded them to stay out of trouble and stay in shape. Rookies were due to report one more day and a handful of veterans rehabbing will also be around, but before long the building will clear out for a while.
"It was a step-by-step process, we got everything in," Fisher said. "We're very, very healthy and we got the rookies caught up, which was good."