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Bradford Holding Up Well

Posted Dec 22, 2010

Considering the nature of his position and all that it entails, it would be perfectly normal for Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford to be a little weary at this point in the season, both physically and especially mentally.

As an NFL quarterback, much is expected, nay demanded of Bradford on the field and in the classroom.

As a rookie NFL quarterback, the workload that encompasses can be a lot to take on for someone who is accustomed to his season being over by the time this many games have been played in a season.

But Bradford says he is not bothered by the grind of the long NFL season.

“No, not really,” Bradford said. “I think the fact that we are still playing meaningful football and the fact that we have a shot to get in the playoffs, we don’t really have time to think about the grind. We’ve just got to come in, try to get better each week and focus on that week’s opponent.”

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo echoed those sentiments, saying Bradford never changes his relentless approach from week to week.

“I can honestly tell you I have not seen that,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a very focused individual.  He takes care of his body and he realizes the length of this whole thing.  You’re talking about the rookie walls, but he played at Oklahoma where they’re still practicing now.  They’ll play another game here.  I know he did that a lot in his career, so I think he’s kind of used to it.”

Of course, Bradford himself helped raise questions about the so-called rookie wall with less than stellar performances in each of the past two games. After last week’s game against Kansas City, Bradford said he simply did not play well and that he must be better to help his team win games.

In those two games, Bradford is 39-of-75 for 412 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions, a far cry from the mistake-free signal caller that played the first dozen games.

“Obviously, the past couple weeks I haven’t played as well as I would like to,” Bradford said. “It’s frustrating at times but you can’t get caught up in the past. Those games are over. You come in on Monday, learn from those mistakes and move on to the next game. That’s what I did this week. I wouldn’t say defenses have done anything different. It’s me not being as clean in my reads as I need to be.”

Even in those performances, Spagnuolo said there was plenty to like about some of the things Bradford did.

“No different than any other player,” Spagnuolo said. “I mean, you just go back to work on Wednesday and get to where you were. He’d be the first to admit he’d like to play better, but yet I do think there are a lot of things that he did pretty good.”

Nobody could blame Bradford is fatigue began to catch up with him considering the fact that he’s played every single offensive snap the Rams have made this year.

After coming into the league on the heels of a season-ending shoulder injury his last season at Oklahoma, Bradford takes pride in the fact that he hasn’t missed a play let alone a series or even a game.

“I would love to finish the season taking every snap in our offense,” Bradford said. “I think as a quarterback you set out every season to play every snap. As long as my guys are out there battling then I want to be out there with them.”

Bradford has had no trouble staying healthy this season. Even though he’s taken some shots, none have been enough to even put him on the sideline for a single play. He attributes that to adding about 12 to 15 pounds to his frame to better hold up against the bigger, stronger defenders in the league.

“Physically I feel great,” Bradford said. “I really think the weight I added in the offseason has really paid off. My body feels great. I feel probably fresher now than I did in college.”

As for the taxing mental aspects of it all, the never-ending film work, the game plan installation and the checks and calls, Bradford says he has yet to reach a point where he’s too blurry eyed and tired to keep pressing through it.

“I feel like each week presents a new challenge,” Bradford said. “I am up for the challenge every week. I haven’t hit the point where I am watching film at night where I’m like ‘OK, what defense, who are we playing again?’ I am still very focused. Everything is very clear when I am watching film so I think it’s a good sign that I haven’t got to that point yet.”

CLOSER TO RETURN?: On Monday, Spagnuolo indicated he was hopeful that tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and running back Kenneth Darby would be back in practice this week, starting on Wednesday.

But only half of that came to fruition as Darby returned to work on a limited basis, even doing some special teams work.

Hoomanawanui, meanwhile, did practice but not as much as hoped.

“(He) didn’t get as many reps as we thought,” Spagnuolo said. “He didn’t feel good coming off the Monday, Tuesday deal so he went a little bit but didn’t get as much as we thought.”

MORE QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS: For the second consecutive week, the Rams enter a practice week without knowing for sure what quarterback will start for their opponent on Sunday.

San Francisco coach Mike Singletary again refrained from naming a starter on Wednesday as speculation swirls about whether it will be Alex Smith or Troy Smith leading the 49ers this week.

Troy Smith started five games as Alex Smith recovered from injury earlier in the year and went 3-2 including a win against the Rams in the first meeting.

Alex Smith has gone 1-1 since his return, including a big performance against Seattle two weeks ago and struggled in a loss last week against San Diego.

Singletary indicated he would make a decision sooner than later and it likely won’t drag out until Sunday like it did with Kansas City and Matt Cassel last week.

“I think sometime today we’ll figure that out,” Singletary said. “Just kind of go from there.”

Much like last week, Spagnuolo said the uncertainty doesn’t make a huge difference in how his team will prepare though it might have a little effect.

“Yes and no,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s kind of like last week where we are defending the system. There are 11 players in that huddle. We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it will change us that much. There might be a few tidbits here and there.”

INJURY REPORT: In addition to the limited work for Hoomanawanui and Darby, defensive end Chris Long did not practice.

Long has a bruised thigh and spent the workout on the sidelines working with strength coach Rock Gullickson. Spagnuolo said he was hopeful Long could return to practice Thursday.

Fullback/linebacker Brit Miller was officially placed on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Wednesday.

Linebacker Curtis Johnson was activated from the practice squad to replace Miller on the active roster. The Rams brought in receiver Joe West to take his place on the practice squad.

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