St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford recently stated that his ankle still isn't completely healed. With training camp drawing near, his remarks are a concern for a team that desperately needs him this season.
"It's good, it's good," Bradford said about his ankle. "I would say there's still days where it's not 100 percent, but I really haven't had any major setbacks. It seems to be getting better every week. I'm hoping by the time training camp gets here that it'll really be a non-factor."
This is a huge problem for the Rams. Bradford's ankle was injured more than seven months ago. If it's not 100 percent healed now, then how can he expect it to be fine in time for training camp? It's hard to believe that Bradford will be able to lead the Rams' offense with a lingering injury from 2011, especially when his ankle could inhibit both his mobility and his ability to plant and throw consistently.
I know that I'm taking the negative approach here, but after learning that Bradford isn't 100 percent recovered from his injury, I'm nervous. Bradford was already struggling to build on his outstanding rookie campaign when he got hurt. As ESPN's Ron Jaworski noted recently, Bradford was a different quarterback last season.
"In 2011, Bradford, with very few exceptions, did not look like the same confident quarterback that I saw as a rookie," Jaworski said. "He was tentative in the pocket, a function of both erratic offensive line play and receivers that could not win on the outside. But I was troubled by Bradford's increasing tendency to anticipate the rush. I call that `cabin fever.' And Bradford struggled with that."
That's the same "cabin fever" that rendered former Houston Texans top draft pick David Carr incapable of reaching his potential in the NFL. It has also affected other quarterbacks including former Rams' signal-caller Marc Bulger. While I don't believe that Bradford will end up like Carr or Bulger, I want him to have every chance to succeed in his third season. The Rams are doing that by installing a more balanced offense for 2012, which I believe will help Bradford tremendously. However, but the most important advantage that he could have this September is his health. The team must do everything it can to ensure that Bradford's ankle is healed before putting him under center.
Hopefully, I'm simply overreacting and Bradford will be fine when training camp starts. It would be a shame to see such a wonderful young quarterback enter the season with lingering injuries from 2011.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.