Bradford Slowly Working His Way Back

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Sam Bradford hung back as the rest of the team set off on a light run to start pre-practice warmups. Stationed in the end zone and wearing a large brace on his twice surgically-repaired left knee, he zigged and zagged as he jogged from the middle of the field towards the sideline, and then back again.

When individual drills began, he joined the quarterbacks in the far corner of the field. He worked on three-step drops and tossed the ball to the waiting receiver downfield. There was some throwing and a little bit of running during the early stages of the training session but everything the QB was asked to do was low impact. He bowed out during team drills, though Chip Kelly expects his level of participation to go up next week.

“We all think there’s three phases: there is medical rehab, there is performance rehab, and then there is prepare to play,” said Kelly. “He’s probably right at the tail end of medical rehab. He’ll probably start throwing some 7-on-7 next week, but I think he is right on schedule in terms of where he is.”

When the training session concluded, Bradford told reporters that he has noticed marked improvement physically over the last month-and-a-half or so.

“I think I get more comfortable out here every day,” he said. “I get more comfortable with my knee and where it’s at every day the more I’m out here. Obviously it would be nice to take some live reps and I think we’re progressing towards that. I’m sure once I get out there and take some reps on 7-on-7 or on team things it will really start to come together.”

The 27-year-old is now nine months removed from ACL surgery, and acknowledged that it has been slower-going compared to the first time he ruptured the left knee in 2013. Have there been any setbacks? The Inquirer reported that Bradford did not participate in practice for a week shortly after the start of Phase 2 of the spring workouts earlier this month.

“I think that was part of the plan. I don’t think it was necessarily a scale back,” he said. “I think they wanted to push it and see how it responded. It responded well and they knew that it could handle it but then we just took it back because we had an extra amount of time.”

Is he confident he’ll be ready for the start of the season?

“I think as long as we continue to progress and we don’t have any setbacks, I feel very comfortable with where my knee is at right now,” he responded.

Mark Sanchez is taking first-team reps while Bradford works his way back. Kelly indicated that the quarterbacks will compete for the starting job this summer. That’s Sanchez’s understanding of the situation as well.

During the lead-up to the draft, there were questions about whether Bradford would even have a chance to try out for the gig. Kelly acknowledged that the team inquired about trading up for Marcus Mariota, and multiple reports indicated that he was willing to include Bradford as part of the package to land him. Bradford did not receive any assurances from the Eagles that he would remain on the team at that time, he said, but felt “pretty comfortable all along” based on the conversations he had with Kelly since coming aboard.

“I learned a long time ago not to pay attention to it. It was out of my control. I just focus on controlling what I can control, and all I could do was to show up to work every day, continue to rehab, continue to get better,” said Bradford. “Fortunately, I’m still here and I’m excited about the opportunity.”