ST. LOUIS — It’s time to unwrap quarterback Sam Bradford’s new toys in a game that matters.
The St. Louis Rams expect to have a much more dangerous offense given Bradford’s familiarity with the system in Year 2 with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Plus, they’ve got Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Jake Long now.
Bradford’s so pumped to play, he joked after practice Wednesday that he’s even looking forward to his weekly media scrum. And no, he wouldn’t rather have another week to school the youngsters.
“I’m ready to go,” Bradford said. “I’m ready to see these young guys out there. It’s going to be really fun to see those guys get out there and light it up on Sunday.”
For the first time in several years, the Rams appear well-stocked at wide receiver, with a rookie who’ll line up all over the place, and with breakaway threats across the board. That includes the hybrid tight end, plus there’s a former No. 1 overall draft pick helping protect another former No. 1.
Now, Bradford gets to dip into the playbook and show how it’ll all work in the opener at home against Arizona on Sunday.
At one end of the spectrum, there’s the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Austin, and at the other there’s Cook at 6-3, 250 pounds. There’s impressive holdovers, too, led by deep threat Chris Givens and lanky Austin Pettis.
“The biggest thing they all have in common is speed,” Bradford said. “We’ve got all different shapes and sizes of guys who are able to make plays.”
There’s also a high-paid line to keep Bradford on his feet and open holes for the unsung running back crew, too. Rodger Saffold was the left tackle for three seasons and has moved to the right side to make room for Long.
“We’ve been pleased with its progress. You’ve been at practice, you’ve kind of got a sense for what we’re doing,” Fisher said. “We just have to carry it over to the game.”
The playbook won’t be wide open for Arizona, or any other opponent for that matter. The game plan will be tailored to what the Rams believe will work that week.
“Over the course of OTAs and training camp you put in everything,” backup quarterback Kellen Clemens said. “You put in plays you’re going to use once a year, maybe.
“It’s about creating matchups, illusions. If you’ve got a great magic trick that’s your closer on opening night, you don’t show it in warmups.”
Austin’s ready to be turned loose and show he was worth trading up to get with the eighth overall draft pick. The longest of his eight catches in the preseason was for 15 yards but he busted an 81-yard punt return.
“They say the intensity level will turn up a little bit more,” Austin said. “I think I’m prepared for it, what they’re going to throw at me.”
He certainly has the Cardinals’ attention.
“Every time he touches the ball,” coach Bruce Arians said, `you hold your breath.”
Throughout the preseason, the Rams have been careful not to put too much on Bradford’s shoulders. That’s the case heading into Week 1, too.
“Sam’s going to go out there, just play the position and execute,” Fisher said. “He’s had a great camp and he has a good feel for the plan right now.”
Bradford is coming off his best statistical season but the Rams were 25th in the NFL in scoring and also in the bottom third in total offense and rushing offense. He wants more and wants it now, but reminds himself there are times when he should settle for less.
“Last year we really struggled on third down but a big reason for that is first and second down weren’t very efficient,” the quarterback said. “There’s times during games where I’ve got to understand down and distance better and get us into better situations.”