Bradford Adding Run to Repertoire

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Not that the Rams plan to install any zone-reads or option plays to turn quarterback Sam Bradford loose in the running game anytime soon but after a game in which he again proved capable of doing damage with his legs when things break down, all parties agree that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if Bradford could do more.

After rushing three times for 31 yards, including two attempts for 25 yards that, combined with a 15-yard penalty tacked on to a 14-yard gain, put the Rams in position to kick a game-tying field goal in regulation of the team’s win against San Francisco last week, Bradford is continuing to add elements to his game that make him a more complete quarterback.

“Sam’s running just enough right now,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “Sam knows when to run. Sam can escape, buy himself some time, make a completion, throw it away if need be. Then of course in situations where he recognizes specific coverages, like he did in the two-minute drive, he picked up two key first downs for us.”

Nobody is going to confuse Bradford for more notorious run-oriented quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III or even last week’s opposing signal caller, Colin Kaepernick.

But Bradford does bring an underrated athleticism to the table that might go overlooked by those that don’t know any better. Coming out of Oklahoma, Bradford registered 40-yard dash times in the 4.7-4.8 range with strong performances in the other athletic measurables from his pro day.

After running sparingly in his rookie season (27 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown), Bradford was far more limited in his scrambling last year because an on going ankle injury.

This year, though, Bradford has looked more and more comfortable identifying coverages he can take off against and in 12 games has already set new career highs for rushing attempts (28) and yards (100).

For his part, Bradford doesn’t mind pulling it down and taking off, especially when lanes as wide as the ones late against the Niners seem to open up.

“I like it, especially if teams are going to play us in two-man the way that San Francisco tried to do at the end of the game,” Bradford said. “There’s no one accounting for me, so if they’re going to do that, then I’ve got to show them that I’m willing to run to get them out of that coverage.”

Earlier this season, Bradford found similar opportunities in the Oct. 14 game against Miami. There, he took off four times for 34 yard (a career high) and added a touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

Fisher, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti have made it a point to get Bradford looking for those running opportunities, particularly against stout defenses like San Francisco’s.

“In this league with the pass rushers that you are going to face every week, there is always going to be a time or two in the game where the pass rush is coming,” Schottenheimer said. “They are trying to get to the quarterback and they are trying to edge the inside guy to run around the back of the pocket and naturally running lanes get created up front. It’s just something you have got to make the quarterback aware of.

“It’s kind of the new thing that’s being taught and coached by quarterback coaches and coordinators around the league. People probably don’t give Sam enough credit for what a good athlete he is.”

One evolution that could help continue to open running lanes for not only Bradford but the running backs also is the continued development of the deep passing game, particularly with rookie wideout Chris Givens.

Bradford has found a connection with most of his receivers and isn’t afraid to take deep shots down the field that help loosen up the defense.

“I think it’s been really good for our offense, the fact that people have seen us throw the ball down the field,” Bradford said. “I think it’s backed people off.”

That doesn’t mean Bradford intends to start just randomly scrambling and getting away from the pocket passing game that he does best. He knows his limitations and doesn’t regard himself in a class running wise of someone like Kaepernick but will keep his eyes open for any chance he has to make a play whether it’s with his arm or his legs.

“I think (Kaepernick) did get out of the pocket for a long one,” Bradford said. “I’m not sure if I quite have that speed, but I was able to make a couple plays with my feet and I’ll look to continue to do that.”

OFFERING HELP: On the heels of the tragedy that took place in Kansas City last weekend when linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered the mother of his young daughter and then committed suicide in the parking lot of the team’s facility, teams around the league have done what they can to raise awareness about communicating and talking about day to day life issues.

Fisher was asked about how he views the issue on Wednesday and offered some insight into it.

“Well, that’s taking place in the individual organizations,” Fisher said. “You rely on players and their ability to communicate with one another, the open-door policy, and then of course all the educational things we go through…This is a very tragic, difficult situation to deal with from an organization’s standpoint. Believe me, when (Kansas City head) Coach (Romeo) Crennel says the locker room is truly a family, the team’s truly a family, it really is. Everybody looks after one another and takes care of each other and then in rare instances something like this happens. It’s very unfortunate.”

Fisher said he has dealt with players who need help before but attributes that to his unique amount of experience in the league.
“Yes, but I’ve been in the league a long time,” Fisher said. “So, I’ve been around a lot of player and fortunately had success with it.”
BROCKERS PROGRESSES: Rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers was all over the field last week against the Niners and continues to develop into the player the team envisioned when it spent the 14th overall pick on him in April’s NFL Draft.

Brockers finished with a career high 11 tackles according to the coaches film review, one for loss and a quarterback pressure and earned praise from Fisher for his efforts.

“He’s improving,” Fisher said. “He played pretty well last week as well. He played stout, strong and got good pressure, had a real nice chase down tackle down field. He’s feeling good and he’s improving.”
INJURY REPORT: The Rams had a couple of positive tweaks to their injury report Thursday evening as receiver Danny Amendola (foot) and linebacker Mario Haggan (elbow) were upgraded to limited participation after sitting out Wednesday.

Amendola’s progress could be a good sign but Fisher said it will continue to be monitored the rest of the week and into the weekend.

“We’ll see how he is over the next couple of days,” Fisher said.

Tight end Mike McNeill (thigh), center Scott Wells (knee) and center Tim Barnes (non-injury) did not practice. Running back Steven Jackson (foot) was upgraded to full participation as has been custom the past couple weeks.