The 2011 season was not a total loss for Sam Bradford.
Fighting through a high-ankle sprain for five games even though the St. Louis Rams' season appeared doomed scored points with teammates. There is value in that for a quarterback.
Recovery timetables vary, so it's impossible to say for sure whether Bradford returned more quickly than another player would have under the same circumstances.
Bradford was back in the lineup 21 days after suffering the injury at Green Bay. Research I conducted last season showed three Cleveland Browns quarterbacks returning from high-ankle sprains after 28, 28 and 31 days in 2010. Two of those Cleveland quarterbacks injured their right ankles, used for planting. Bradford and Colt McCoy (28 days) injured their left ankles, which take less abuse for a right-handed quarterback.
Bradford beat reasonable expectations, at least, and those are the types of things teammates notice. He was obviously not 100 percent upon returning. The injury forced him to the sideline for four of the final five games.
Bradford took every offensive snap for the Rams as a rookie in 2010.
"I couldn’t think higher of Sam as a competitor or as a guy," Rams defensive end Chris Long told the Bernie Miklasz Show, via Sports Radio Interviews. "I'm a D-lineman and toughness is a premium for us and that is one tough son-of-a-gun. He’s a competitive dude and he’s a dude that eats, sleeps and breathes football. I have to pull his arm to get him to go do anything fun, so his nose is always to the grindstone, but he is rejuvenated and I think he's going to get some more help.
"I certainly think as the whole team thrives, Sam will thrive and vice versa. We’re really excited about that and we couldn’t be more confident in the guy we have under center."