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Bradford Looking for More

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by -X-, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. -X- Not into the whole brevity thing.

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    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.stlouisrams.com/news-and-events/article-1/Bradford-Looking-for-More/dbcb6c63-4396-447a-955c-a398281917e5" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.stlouisrams.com/news-and-eve ... 98281917e5</a>

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    Coming off a rookie season in which he earned Rookie of the Year honors, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford set the bar high for his second NFL season.

    And by set the bar high, not in the eyes of anyone but himself. A relentless competitor, Bradford has higher expectations for himself than anyone else could imagine.

    That’s why, nine games into his second year, Bradford finds himself dissatisfied in what he’s done so far.

    “I think my performance so far has been a little disappointing, especially from my perspective,” Bradford said. “I expect a lot out of myself. I expected to come in and have a great year and obviously I have struggled at times. But like I said, we are continuing to get better, I am continuing to get better and I feel more comfortable in this offense each week. I think the more I am in it, the more our offense as a whole works together, the better we’ll become.”

    To this point, Bradford has been unable to reach the status that propelled the Rams to a plus-six win differential in 2010. In the seven games he’s started, Bradford has thrown for 1,587 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions for a rating of 72.6.

    Those numbers have been hampered by a variety of factors, not that Bradford would ever be one to make an excuse.

    The reality is, though, that Bradford has been faced with a whole lot of adversity in his second season, not least of which came in the form of a high ankle sprain that cost him two games and has had him playing through pain the past two weeks.

    “He’s a tough dude,” end Chris Long said. “That’s one thing about Sam. He has dealt with some adversity since he’s been here. You have some issues when you are the first pick on a team. He’s handled those issues well and he’s making plays for us. He’s been hurt some but he’s gutted it out. I think that’s why his teammates respect him.”

    Although it didn’t show up on the scoreboard, coach Steve Spagnuolo believes Bradford was just hitting his stride in new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system when he suffered the high left ankle sprain on the game’s final play against Green Bay on Oct. 16.

    In that game, the offense posted 424 yards of offense but struggled in the red zone and on third down.

    “We have struggled at times,” Bradford said. “We have struggled in the red zone. We have struggled on third down. I am definitely a little frustrated about that and I realize that it needs to be better.”
    The change in offensive schemes is something that plenty of teams have gone through but rare is the team going through as drastic a change in offensive philosophy as the one Bradford made from a year ago in then coordinator Pat Shurmur’s offense to this one.

    The old system favored a lot of three step drops and getting the ball out quick. McDaniels is more aggressive getting the ball down the field which requires more patience in waiting for wideouts to come open as well as requiring better and longer protection from the offensive line.

    Without a regular offseason for all of those moving parts to come together, it’s made it difficult but not impossible according to Bradford.

    “I wouldn’t say that,” Bradford said. “I feel like we have done a great job adjusting to this new system. Obviously there are things that we are still learning about this system. Every week we see things on film that maybe we hadn’t seen before. Maybe it would be one of those things if we had a true offseason with OTAs and minicamps that some of the things we are seeing for the first time now we would have seen during those practices. But as far as learning this offense, I feel very comfortable in it.”

    Compounding matters even more has been a rash of injuries to wide receivers that have left little opportunity for Bradford to get continuity with a consistent group of wideouts.

    In the first week, Bradford lost one of his favorite targets in Danny Amendola for the season. Just two weeks ago, Bradford seemed to have found a reliable replacement in rookie Greg Salas but he too suffered a season ending injury.

    In addition to those two, receivers like Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson have dealt with nagging injuries that have kept them out of games. Then there’s been the addition of Brandon Lloyd who has emerged as the team’s top target but hasn’t been working with Bradford long enough for the two of them to totally on the same page yet.

    “Ideally I would probably like to have the same four or five guys out there every week but it’s the National Football League,” Bradford said. “People get hurt, people get banged up, other guys have to come in and play for us. I feel like I’ve got enough reps with everyone on our offense now for them to step in and play is nothing new for me. I don’t think it throws my timing off at all. It would be nice if we could have the same corps for the rest of the season.”

    Again, neither Bradford nor any of his teammates or coaches is using any of that as an excuse and they readily acknowledge the need for improvement.

    In fact, with Bradford and Lloyd starting to get dialed in, the return of Mark Clayton to the receiver corps and running back Steven Jackson running as well as ever, Bradford believes the group is on the verge of something better.

    “I feel like we have improved,” Bradford said. “I feel like the offense is starting to come together and I think in the past three weeks we have played some better football. We have to continue to push and continue to get better and understand we are not where we need to be and we need to get better in order for this team to be successful.”

    ROSTER MOVES: The Rams made a trio of roster moves on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as they fill holes vacated by cornerback Al Harris and tight end Mike Hoomanawanui.

    Harris and Hoomanawanui were placed on the injured reserve list with knee ailments.

    In their stead, the Rams signed a pair of defensive players to the active roster: cornerback Nate Ness and linebacker Justin Cole.

    Ness had been on the Rams’ practice squad for a few weeks. At 6-1, 190 pounds, Ness has the size and length to be a Spagnuolo type of corner capable of playing press coverage at the line of scrimmage.

    “I like what Nate’s been doing,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a cover guy. The one thing you don’t know about the guys when you bring them in this time of year, you can’t do “real” football. It’s not live and tackling and whatnot but I think he’s picked up the system well.”

    Cole also comes from a practice squad, that of the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s listed at 6’3, 242 pounds in his second year out of San Jose State.

    “Justin Cole is a guy the personnel department has had their eye on,” Spagnuolo said. “We had an opportunity to get him here so we did it. We’ll see where he is. He gets plugged in right away in special teams.”

    The Rams also signed cornerback Chris Smith to the practice squad to take the place of Ness. Smith spent time with the Rams in training camp.

    INJURY REPORT: The Rams’ injury report Wednesday was lengthy but encouraging. That’s because they had just three players who did not participate in practice.

    Tackle Jason Smith (head), receiver Brandon Gibson (groin) and running back Cadillac Williams (calf) sat out the workout.

    The limited participation list was much longer. Receiver Danario Alexander, linebacker Josh Hull and running back Jerious Norwood were limited with hamstring injuries.

    Linebacker Bryan Kehl (ankle), tight end Lance Kendricks (foot), cornerback Justin King (head), left tackle Rodger Saffold (head), end Eugene Sims (shoulder) and safety Darian Stewart (neck) were also limited.

    Of that group, the most encouraging news might have been for King and Saffold.

    “Justin King and Rodger Saffold were diagnosed with just mild concussions,” Spagnuolo said. “They have gone through the normal progressions. Today they were in the non contact phase. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get them in a limited fashion and they’ll get better as the week goes on.”
     
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