Sam Bradford: Rams ‘ready to start winning football games’

EARTH CITY, Mo. — Sam Bradford had some extreme ups (winning the Heisman Trophy) and some extreme downs (missing most of the ’09 season with a shoulder injury) during his college career. The former Oklahoma quarterback experienced a new high Thursday night when the Rams selected him with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Afterward, he talked to Sporting News’ Dennis Dillon and other reporters on a conference call from New York.

Rams make Sam Bradford first pick in 2010 draft.
Rams make Sam Bradford first pick in 2010 draft.

Q. What was going through your mind when you got that call from (GM) Billy Devaney?
A:
You have no idea how excited I am. Just to have the opportunity to come to St. Louis and start my NFL career there is a blessing. I can’t wait to get there and get to work.

Q. What was it like hearing your named called?
A:
It was a dream come true. You grow up and you dream about playing in the NFL, and you dream about going in the first round. It just seems so far-fetched at the time. And then to be up there tonight and actually have it happen, it’s just an unbelievable feeling.

Q. What did Billy Devaney say when he called you on the phone?
A:
He just asked me if I was ready to be a St. Louis Ram, and I told him there was no doubt in my mind that I was.

Q. What was it like going through the adversity of missing most of last season?
A:
Obviously, last year was tough. It was not something I wanted to go through. But I feel like I made the most of the situation. I learned a lot about myself, how to deal with adversity, how to deal with things that don’t go right in your life. I feel like I matured mentally going through that situation, and I think I’ll be much more prepared to make this transition after going through an experience like I did last year.

Q. The Rams have learned a lot about you over the last four months. What have you learned about them?
A:
I love the coaching staff. I love the attitude they have. They’re ready to start winning football games. When I was in St. Louis for my visit, it seemed like there was such a good group of guys in the locker room. I really enjoyed meeting them. It seemed like they all had a great attitude. They were working hard. They want to win, and hopefully I can come in and help them do that.

Q. Do you feel like you can step in right away?
A:
That’s tough to say. Obviously, I haven’t looked at a playbook. I haven’t gone through any practices or anything like that. But I can tell you that I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get on the field as soon as possible.

Q. A lot of people second-guessed your decision to go back to Oklahoma (in ’09). Looking back, can you talk about how things have worked out for you?
A:
I definitely heard a lot of criticism about my decision to go back to Oklahoma last year, but with all the information I had, I feel like I made the right decision. Even though I wasn’t on the field a lot last year, I was around the game for another year. I was able to mature mentally, I was able to mature physically. And I feel like this year, when I do make that transition to the NFL, I’ll be much more prepared than if I had tried to make that transition last year.

Q. What are your thoughts about coach Steve Spagnuolo, coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl?
A:
I love those guys. I got a chance to spend time with all of them. Most recently, I was with Pat Shurmur and Dick Curl at my workout last Friday. We went through a couple of drills that they do at practice, talked about the things they would do in their offense. It was great, and I feel like those guys are very knowledgeable. You can just tell when you talk to them that they love football and they love coaching. And coach Spags, I got to spend quite a bit of time with him on my visit to St. Louis. I sat down with him for half an hour. I just think he’s a great man, a great coach, and I really look forward to playing for him.

Q. Sometimes the contract can be out of your hands, but how would you assess the upcoming negotiations, and do you see any circumstance where you wouldn’t be at training camp on time?
A:
That’s totally out of my hands. I’m not worried about that. All I want to do is play football. The contract, that’s up to my agent; he’s going to handle the business side. And I cannot wait to get on the football field.

Q. Can you tell us more about what you know now as a football player and what you learned over the past year when you weren’t on the field?
A:
When you’re not playing, you’re really able to look at the game from a different perspective. I feel that was what I was able to do. When you’re out there, especially in the no-huddle system we were playing in, things just happen. We get a play call, you make the call, you execute it. You obviously understand what you’re doing, but then sometimes, as you look back and watch the tape, you’re like, "Did we do that? Why did I do that?" When you’re not playing, you don’t have to make those split-second decisions, so you’re really able to analyze what we were doing as an offense, why we were doing things. You were able to look much more in detail at a defense in a game, see how they were playing, see their adjustments. I just feel like I was able to look at the game in much more detail from the sideline.

Q. At what point did you know your shoulder was OK?
A:
It was about two weeks before my pro day. We were down in Pensacola (Fla.) throwing, and it was just one of those workouts where I was accurate, my ball was coming out quick, my arm strength felt good. After I went through that workout, I called one of my friends and it was like, "I think I’m back. The arm felt great today. It felt like a normal shoulder."

Q. There has been some talk that you take too many hits. What are your thoughts about your playing style and the physical side of it?
A:
I’ve never heard that, but I’ve heard that one of my strengths is the ability to stand in the pocket as long as needed and deliver a ball accurately. I feel like I can do that outside the pocket as well. I really haven’t heard that, but it’s always good if you can eliminate hits and keep yourself healthy.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

EARTH CITY, Mo. — Sam Bradford had some extreme ups (winning the Heisman Trophy) and some extreme downs (missing most of the ’09 season with a shoulder injury) during his college career. The former Oklahoma quarterback experienced a new high Thursday night when the Rams selected him with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Afterward, he talked to Sporting News’ Dennis Dillon and other reporters on a conference call from New York.

Rams make Sam Bradford first pick in 2010 draft.
Rams make Sam Bradford first pick in 2010 draft.

Q. What was going through your mind when you got that call from (GM) Billy Devaney?
A:
You have no idea how excited I am. Just to have the opportunity to come to St. Louis and start my NFL career there is a blessing. I can’t wait to get there and get to work.

Q. What was it like hearing your named called?
A:
It was a dream come true. You grow up and you dream about playing in the NFL, and you dream about going in the first round. It just seems so far-fetched at the time. And then to be up there tonight and actually have it happen, it’s just an unbelievable feeling.

Q. What did Billy Devaney say when he called you on the phone?
A:
He just asked me if I was ready to be a St. Louis Ram, and I told him there was no doubt in my mind that I was.

Q. What was it like going through the adversity of missing most of last season?
A:
Obviously, last year was tough. It was not something I wanted to go through. But I feel like I made the most of the situation. I learned a lot about myself, how to deal with adversity, how to deal with things that don’t go right in your life. I feel like I matured mentally going through that situation, and I think I’ll be much more prepared to make this transition after going through an experience like I did last year.

Q. The Rams have learned a lot about you over the last four months. What have you learned about them?
A:
I love the coaching staff. I love the attitude they have. They’re ready to start winning football games. When I was in St. Louis for my visit, it seemed like there was such a good group of guys in the locker room. I really enjoyed meeting them. It seemed like they all had a great attitude. They were working hard. They want to win, and hopefully I can come in and help them do that.

Q. Do you feel like you can step in right away?
A:
That’s tough to say. Obviously, I haven’t looked at a playbook. I haven’t gone through any practices or anything like that. But I can tell you that I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get on the field as soon as possible.

Q. A lot of people second-guessed your decision to go back to Oklahoma (in ’09). Looking back, can you talk about how things have worked out for you?
A:
I definitely heard a lot of criticism about my decision to go back to Oklahoma last year, but with all the information I had, I feel like I made the right decision. Even though I wasn’t on the field a lot last year, I was around the game for another year. I was able to mature mentally, I was able to mature physically. And I feel like this year, when I do make that transition to the NFL, I’ll be much more prepared than if I had tried to make that transition last year.

Q. What are your thoughts about coach Steve Spagnuolo, coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl?
A:
I love those guys. I got a chance to spend time with all of them. Most recently, I was with Pat Shurmur and Dick Curl at my workout last Friday. We went through a couple of drills that they do at practice, talked about the things they would do in their offense. It was great, and I feel like those guys are very knowledgeable. You can just tell when you talk to them that they love football and they love coaching. And coach Spags, I got to spend quite a bit of time with him on my visit to St. Louis. I sat down with him for half an hour. I just think he’s a great man, a great coach, and I really look forward to playing for him.

Q. Sometimes the contract can be out of your hands, but how would you assess the upcoming negotiations, and do you see any circumstance where you wouldn’t be at training camp on time?
A:
That’s totally out of my hands. I’m not worried about that. All I want to do is play football. The contract, that’s up to my agent; he’s going to handle the business side. And I cannot wait to get on the football field.

Q. Can you tell us more about what you know now as a football player and what you learned over the past year when you weren’t on the field?
A:
When you’re not playing, you’re really able to look at the game from a different perspective. I feel that was what I was able to do. When you’re out there, especially in the no-huddle system we were playing in, things just happen. We get a play call, you make the call, you execute it. You obviously understand what you’re doing, but then sometimes, as you look back and watch the tape, you’re like, "Did we do that? Why did I do that?" When you’re not playing, you don’t have to make those split-second decisions, so you’re really able to analyze what we were doing as an offense, why we were doing things. You were able to look much more in detail at a defense in a game, see how they were playing, see their adjustments. I just feel like I was able to look at the game in much more detail from the sideline.

Q. At what point did you know your shoulder was OK?
A:
It was about two weeks before my pro day. We were down in Pensacola (Fla.) throwing, and it was just one of those workouts where I was accurate, my ball was coming out quick, my arm strength felt good. After I went through that workout, I called one of my friends and it was like, "I think I’m back. The arm felt great today. It felt like a normal shoulder."

Q. There has been some talk that you take too many hits. What are your thoughts about your playing style and the physical side of it?
A:
I’ve never heard that, but I’ve heard that one of my strengths is the ability to stand in the pocket as long as needed and deliver a ball accurately. I feel like I can do that outside the pocket as well. I really haven’t heard that, but it’s always good if you can eliminate hits and keep yourself healthy.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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