Bradford builds rapport with new coordinator McDaniels

Thursday, July 28, 2011
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford speaks during a news conference Tuesday at the team's training facility in St. Louis. The Rams will hold their first training camp practice Saturday. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Tutoring Sam Bradford is Josh McDaniels' route to career redemption.

The former boy wonder, once coach of the Denver Broncos at age 32, now is the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. By Wednesday, the second day that players could report, McDaniels guessed the hours he's spent with Bradford already was in double digits.

"I'm looking forward to coaching Sam," McDaniels said. "I would be silly if I didn't say that."

The Rams anticipate an offensive surge under McDaniels, who promises to stretch the field, and Bradford did nothing to douse those expectations. His first impression of McDaniels on Tuesday: "I think it's going to be awesome."

"I think if you look at what he's done in the past and the offense that he's led, they've done some special things," Bradford added. "I think we have the opportunity for the same things here in St. Louis."

McDaniels, now 35, is aware he's being positioned as the offensive guru the Rams need to bridge the gap from last year's 7-9 finish and becoming a contender. He insists, though, that he's just happy to be coaching again.

Asked about the team's chances of acquiring a quality backup running back behind workhorse Steven Jackson, McDaniels politely deferred to general manager Billy Devaney, coach Steve Spagnuolo and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff. He ventured no opinion on the makeup of a typical practice day.

Although he no longer has the big office, McDaniels said nothing has changed. When training camp opens on Saturday, he'll be on the field with a whistle around his neck.

"I am so excited to be coaching," he said. "Football is something that's been a part of my life for a long time and whether it's head coach, coordinator, position coach, water boy, I'll be excited."

That enthusiasm is not surprising considering how his tenure in Denver ended. The Broncos were 3-9, in the midst of their worst slump in four decades and in turmoil off the field when McDaniels was fired in December.

After cutting ties with a coach who won only five of his last 22 games, ownership said it had given McDaniels too much responsibility.

Now, it's a clean slate with a team that could be on the rise.

Bradford was last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year and took a leadership role in informal workouts during the lockout. McDaniels has been impressed with Bradford since interviewing him at the NFL Combine before the 2010 draft, and in the short time since the end of the lockout has taken note of Bradford's understanding of the new playbook.

McDaniels described Bradford's poise as "almost uncanny."

In initial conversations, McDaniels noted that though the young quarterback may not have had a complete understanding of plays, all it took in most cases was a little tweaking.

"You know there's a difference from just looking at something on paper and trying to figure out what words next to plays mean and actually figuring out what's going on in Josh's head and how he feels about a play and a certain read," Bradford said. "It was good to hear him talk about it and start to understand the way he's going to speak about this offense."

McDaniels also will serve as quarterbacks coach, giving Bradford the same type of relationship he had as a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma. With the Sooners, Josh Heupel also served a dual role.

"It's going to come straight from his voice, straight from his mouth," Bradford said. "Anything he says is going to go."

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