Bradford expected to play at least one half

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford drops back to pass during NFL football training camp at the team's training facility Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010, in St. Louis. Bradford will be the Rams' starting quarterback when the team takes on the New England Patriots this week in a preseason game. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The rookie QB will start Thursday against the Patriots

ST. LOUIS -- Sam Bradford has the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback job this week. Now he's got to produce.

The top pick of the draft gets his first pro start in place of veteran A.J. Feeley, sidelined with a sprained right thumb, but with no guarantees beyond Thursday night's game at New England. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said after practice Tuesday that he expected Bradford to play at least the first half and maybe more depending on how much time the Rams have the ball.

"I know the spotlight's on Sam right now and everybody's anxious to see him in there with the first group with Steven Jackson in the backfield," Spagnuolo said to reporters after practice. "I'm just as anxious as you guys are."

Bradford has struggled thus far, going 12 for 27 for 81 yards and no touchdowns. He passed for only 24 yards playing in hard rain in the last preseason game at Cleveland,

He's still adjusting to being under center and has bobbled a number of snaps. Spagnuolo characterized his play thus far as "up and down."

"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 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."

Spagnuolo gave the starting job to Feeley entering camp and could restore him for the preseason finale, giving no guarantees beyond that to Bradford beyond saying he'll start the player who gives a team that went 1-15 last year its best chance to win. Feeley missed both practices of a short work week, but anticipated he'd be able to grip the football soon.

"Every time they go out there, they're being evaluated," Spagnuolo said. "We'll see at the end of it."

Still, nobody expects the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and the player the Rams signed to a six-year, $78 million contract to be a backup for long.

It'll be Bradford's first start since last October when his bid for a second straight Heisman Trophy ended with a shoulder injury against Texas.

"My expectations are extremely high," he said. "Obviously, I want to come out and perform at an extremely high level. I don't know what the fans should expect."

Spagnuolo said earlier in the week that having Jackson in the backfield for the first time would be a "comfort" to Bradford. The Rams are searching for a backup behind the bruising two-time Pro Bowl player.

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