EARTH CITY, Mo. -- By the time the St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers kick off Saturday afternoon's preseason contest, it will have been an even 300 days since quarterback Sam Bradford last played an organized football game.
Granted, it won't be the real deal but as preseason contests go, this is about as excited as you'll see Bradford get.
"(I'm) really excited," Bradford said. "It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there for real and I can’t wait to get back out there. Going through [organized team activities] and going through training camp, I mean, that’s great and all but we’re here to play the game. So to get out there on Saturday and take live snaps, I think I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully the guys are looking forward to having me back out there, too."
Getting Bradford back for the preseason should be no surprise after a rehabilitation which seemingly offered little in the way of setbacks. After Bradford had the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee surgically repaired in late November, he and the Rams set about an aggressive and meticulous plan for his recovery.
Right on schedule, Bradford returned for about half of the Rams' OTAs in the spring and was ready to go full speed when the team opened camp last month.
In the time since, Bradford has taken every repetition with the first-team offense and rarely showed any ill-effects aside from initial rust in the early days of camp. He has had some soreness after practice, but says that is to be expected of any player going through the grind of camp.
"I’ve taken every rep, haven’t had to sit out, haven’t had to miss anything," Bradford said. "My knee feels great, it’s responded really well. I think we’ve been very fortunate Coach (Jeff) Fisher does a great job with our schedule, between the special teams practices and the days off, we’ve had some time to rest and recover. My knee feels really good right now. I’m really happy to see that I haven’t had to miss any time in camp.”
It's unclear how much Bradford will play against the Packers, but consistent with Fisher's gradual build philosophy, it's probably safe to expect he will get more work in the final two preseason contests than against Green Bay.
Before any of that, though, the next step will be taking his first hit. Bradford has dealt with no shortage of pressure during camp and has even had a couple of close calls with players running into him and rolling near his knee. But he has yet to be taken to the ground by someone wearing a different helmet.
"I think it’s important just to be out there knowing that I can get hit, knowing that I’m probably going to take a few hits in the preseason," Bradford said. "I think it’s probably bigger for everyone else to see that it’s going to be OK. I’m going to get hit, its part of the game, it’s no big deal. I’ve come back from an injury before, but it will be nice to take that first hit and get up knowing that everything’s fine."