Bradford Looking Forward To First Start

ST. LOUIS — The Sam Bradford era of St. Louis Rams football starts on Thursday in a preseason game at New England.

That's when the rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall draft pick will make his first start for the Rams, the result of quarterback A.J. Feeley's thumb injury suffered on Saturday in the preseason win over the Cleveland Browns.

"Obviously I'm real excited," Bradford said on Tuesday. "It's been a long time since I've started a football game. It's a tremendous honor to get to start a football game for this team and I really look forward to the opportunity."

The Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Oklahoma was the second quarterback to play in the Rams' first two preseason games, at home against the Minnesota Vikings and on the road at Cleveland.

Bradford is looking to get a lot out of his third preseason game.

"Obviously I want to come out and have a strong showing," Bradford said. "I want to show the guys on this team that I can play. I want to learn as much as possible. We're going against a very good football team. I think this is a great learning opportunity for me and this offense but most of all I really want to come out and help this offense win a football game."

The rookie quarterback has had mixed results in his first two games.

Bradford completed 12 of 27 passes for 81 yards and had a QB rating of 51.6 in his first two preseason games. The Oklahoma native has yet to throw a touchdown pass or an interception.

"I think I've made smart decisions in the first two football games," he said. "I think I've been in the right place with the ball for the most part. Obviously I would like to have a few more completions. I think that just comes with being out there and getting more experience and just speeding the whole process up a bit."

St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spanguolo said following Tuesday's afternoon practice that Bradford would play at least the first half of Thursday's preseason game at New England.

And while Bradford hasn't had much help from the running game in his first two outings, that won't be the case on Thursday when he lines up with All-Pro running back Steven Jackson for the first time in a game.

"I know the spotlight's on Sam right now and everybody's anxious to see him in there with the first group on the first play of the game when we go out offensively with Steven Jackson in the backfield," Spagnuolo said. "I'm just as anxious as you guys are."

Jackson has been impressed with Bradford so far this preseason.

"This is my first time with a rookie quarterback but he is picking the offense up really well," Jackson said. "I mentioned earlier in an interview that he's able to correct personnel, he's able to correct some of the play-calls that come in wrong. That shows that he's in his playbook, that he's dedicated to what he's doing around here and that's pretty impressive that a young guy that has only been here for a few months is able to get the guys organized like that."

Bradford said Tuesday that he is learning in his rookie training camp.

"I feel like I'm making progress," he said. "I feel like every day when I leave the practice field I know something that I didn't know going into the practice. I think that's a good thing. I think if I continue to do that and continue to make the progress like I have been I'm going to be in a good position."

Spagnuolo, the second-year head coach of the Rams, has watched his young quarterback mature and grow through the first few weeks of training camp and his first two preseason games.

"He's on target the way a rookie quarterback would," Spagnuolo said. "He's been up and down. He's got two preseason games under his belt and this will be a third. Little bit of extra for him here because he knows he's going out with the first team the first play the offense goes out there. I'm sure he's all juiced up. He's a competitor. I know he's been looking forward to it, so we'll see what he can do."

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