EARTH CITY, Mo. — Sam Bradford was back in front of reporters and television cameras at Rams Park on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury at Carolina.
But the quarterback has been around his teammates plenty in the week and a half since, basically doing whatever possible while also preparing for his upcoming surgery.
“Someone asked like, ‘Why are you still here?’ and it’s like ‘What else am I going to do?’ Football is all I have,” Bradford said. “If I weren’t up here helping out, watching film, I have no idea what I’d do. It sure as anything beats sitting at home watching TV, listening to music. So I’ll be up here until they kick me out.”
The 25-year-old, who has two more seasons remaining on the six-year contract he signed after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2010 Draft, said Wednesday that the surgery to repair his torn ACL will be performed by Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday. Andrews also performed the surgery to repair the AC joint in Bradford’s shoulder during his final year at Oklahoma.
Bradford noted that he has watched the play where he suffered the injury, a scramble toward the sidelines in the fourth quarter of an eventual 30-15 Week 7 loss.
“After looking at it, it’s kind of what I thought. I think I just kind of got pushed as soon as my left foot went into the ground and I think my foot just kind of got stuck and the rest of my body kept going and that’s what caused the injury.”
Bradford, who was pushed out of bounds by Carolina safety Mike Mitchell, was asked if he thought it was a legal play.
“It happened in the field of play,” he said. “I wasn’t out of bounds. It’s not like he came over and tried to kill me either. So I think it was a clean play.”
There was no flag on Mitchell for the play, but the Panthers safety was later fined $7,875 by the NFL for taunting.
“I did not see that part,” Bradford said. “I would like to think that he didn’t know that I was injured. I know what Harvey Dahl went up and did and I really appreciate that. It means a lot when your guys stick up for you.”
Bradford has been sticking up for his teammates since, hanging around the team and trying to help his replacement, Kellen Clemens, and new quarterbacks Austin Davis and Brady Quinn however he can. Bradford’s injury left Clemens as the only QB on the roster at the time. The Rams signed Davis and Quinn early last week.
“I’m basically just here to help,” Bradford said. “It’s kind of a little bit of a role reversal. Kellen has been here for me a lot over the past couple years and I’m trying to do the same thing for him that he’s done for me. Sit in the meeting room with him. Watch tape. If he asks for my opinion, I’m happy to give it to him. Tell him things I see at practice. Just little things like that. Overall I’m just there for support really.”
The quarterback admitted it was difficult to be on the sidelines watching on Monday night, a 14-9 loss to Seattle that ended with an incomplete pass from Clemens on fourth down at the 1-yard line.
“It was tougher than expected, to be honest,” he said. “I thought after a couple years ago missing a few games with me ankle that I would kind of be prepared for it. But until you get out there and you stand on the sideline and have to watch, it doesn’t really hit you.
“Then, after the game, I think that’s the toughest because it’s kind of a helpless feeling. There’s really not much you can do. It was pretty tough.”
Bradford said the plan is for him to be ready to begin the 2014 season.
At the time of his injury, the quarterback was on his way to having the best season of his four-year career. He completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 90.9. Bradford’s quarterback rating was 82.6 in 2012 when he threw for 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“I felt good the way I was playing,” he said. “I think that’s the most frustrating part about it is it seems like as an offense we were improving and we were getting better, especially after the San Fran game. Adding the run game and being balanced, I think that was really helping. Hopefully I just come back next year and build off what I was able to do during those seven games and come back even better.”
Bradford’s handling of his situation has impressed his coaches and teammates.
“That’s just Sam,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “Nothing was said to him at all about coming around. He just loves it. He’s here to support the offense and help Kellen and Brady and Austin. He’s on the sideline. He was even out there with Kellen when he was warming up during the pre-game warm-ups. He’s done a tremendous job. He was voted a captain and clearly that’s not the reason he’s here. He’s here because he wants to help.”
Clemens echoed Fisher’s comments and said that having Bradford around to help the quarterbacks has been “awesome.”
“He’s got a wealth of knowledge because he’s played so long,” he said. “Really, he’s played more games than I have, so it’s been great to be able to bounce stuff off of him. He also has, when you’re talking about Seattle and certain teams in this division, he’s played against them in the past, so an opportunity to bounce stuff off of him has been great. I think the fact that he has stuck around and continued to be a major part of our quarterback room, of this offense and of this entire football team just speaks to his character. I can’t say enough great things about Sam Bradford.”
EX-TITANS FISHER, COOK DOWNPLAY MATCHUP
Fisher spent 17 seasons as head coach of the Houston-Tennessee franchise that he’ll be facing for the first time on Sunday.
He has been asked on several occasions about playing the team he guided to six playoff appearances and he has continued to downplay any special significance to it.
“There’s 16 players on the roster that were there when I was there, so the roster has just about completely turned over,” Fisher said. “There’s just a few coaches on the staff. The front office has turned over. So to me this is just another opponent. Yes, I have great memories there and I owe the organization an awful lot or we wouldn’t be standing here right now, and that includes the Adams family.”
Fisher reiterated that he has a lot of fond memories from his time in Houston and Tennessee and has developed many relationships with former players there. But…
“As far as I’m concerned I’ve moved on,” he said. “They are just another challenge for us this week.”
Rams tight end Jared Cook spent the first four seasons of his career with Tennessee, including three playing for Fisher, before signing with St. Louis as a free agent in the offseason.
“I just know it’s a big game,” he said. “It’s a big game for a lot of people in this building. It’s just another game for us. It’s another one on the schedule so we have to go out and get a win.”
Cook also downplayed the significance of meeting his former team.
“That’s just how the business goes,” he said. “That’s just part of it. There’s many guys in there that have been on other teams as well. But it’s the next one on the schedule and it’s the next one we have to concentrate on.”
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DAHL TO MISS TIME
The Rams came out of the Monday night matchup with some bumps and bruises and at least one fairly significant injury.
“Harvey (Dahl) is going to miss some time — I don’t know, a couple weeks perhaps — with an MCL,” Fisher said.
Dahl, the starting right guard, was among six players listed on the official injury report who did not participate in practice on Wednesday, along with left tackle Jake Long (knee), center Scott Wells (thigh), running backs Zac Stacy (foot) and Daryl Richardson (foot) and wide receiver Austin Pettis (thigh). Clemens (right shoulder) and safety Darian Stewart (foot) were listed as limited participants in practice.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @natelatsch or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.