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#RamsFanFest Recap: Bradford Shows Off

Posted Aug 2, 2014

Here's everything you missed at #RamsFanFest including Sam Bradford's immediate chemistry with Stedman Bailey, Aaron Donald's production and much more.

The third annual Rams Fan Fest went off without a hitch Saturday afternoon, with food, fun, and football for the entire family.

Thousands of fans -- including competitive eating champion Takeru Kobayashi -- attended the practice and scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome, providing a small taste of what it will be like when the home team takes the field against the Saints on Friday.

ZIPPING IT IN

Much like the rest of camp, quarterback Sam Bradford had a strong day tossing the ball around the home turf. In early 11-on-11 action, Bradford had multiple down-field completions to a bevy of different receivers. Not only were the passes accurate, but they also carried good velocity.

“You could see, those balls were humming today, especially the deep ball to Kenny [Britt],” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “If there’s any question about Sam’s ability to play the position, I think they were answered today.”

One explanation for the speed increase stems from Bradford’s season-ending injury last year. With his lower body limited after tearing his ACL, the quarterback had more opportunities to work on upper-body strength.

“Coming into this camp is probably the strongest I’ve been from the waist up,” Bradford said. “I think it probably has paid off a little bit. I feel like I do have a little more zip on the ball, and I feel like I can make some of those throws that maybe were a little slower last year.”

Bradford looked good throwing to all of his receivers on Saturday, but his rapport with wideout Stedman Bailey was particularly notable. Bailey was all over the field making plays, much like he has been all week. The second-year pro will miss the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, but the team is making sure he’ll fit right into the game plan for Week 5.

“He’s a very smart receiver. He’s always in the right place,” Bradford said of Bailey. “Obviously, it’s a bummer that he’s not going to be with us for the first four. But when he comes back, the timing and everything we’re doing right now is to make sure we’re ready.”

Bradford’s chemistry extends not just to Bailey, but also to all of his receivers. Fisher pointed out the quarterback’s deep ball to Britt as one of Saturday’s highlights, but Bradford completed plenty of passes to Tavon Austin as well. Calling this group of receivers the most talented he’s worked with in St. Louis, Bradford said developing good chemistry takes a lot of work -- like catching against air in order to better understand where players will be against certain looks.

“I think it was big this spring, we put a lot of time into just throwing routes,” Bradford said. “And I think it’s paid off for us during the early part of training camp.”

Though he hasn’t faced any live action since suffering his injury last fall, Bradford said he’s not itching to play only to get hit for the first time.

“There’s definitely a part of me that just wants to get back out there and just feel the speed of the game again,” Bradford said. “Take that first hit, and probably prove to everyone else that I’m going to be fine more than myself. I know I’m going to be ready to go.”

Fisher has yet to announce how much -- if at all -- Bradford will play against the Saints next week. But when Bradford does finally take the field, he will have had the requisite reps to be successful.

DONALD’S IMPACT

If you haven’t heard the hype surrounding defensive tackle Aaron Donald, where in the world have you been?

One reason why everyone has been touting the rookie was on display Saturday afternoon. During a team goal-line drill, Donald burst through the offensive line to make a big hit and stop the running back behind the line. The crowd was audibly impressed, and Fisher said a play like that could become routine.

“You see Donald made a big play, which you expect out of him at the goal line,” Fisher said.

Donald said he feels like things are going well for him, but he’s not sure if he has completely adjusted to the speed of the NFL.

“I haven’t played a game yet, so I can’t tell you that yet,” Donald said. “But when I get out there and play some games, and get a feel for the game, I’ll let you know that.”

Though there is a ton of excitement about Donald and his potential, he said it has not become a distraction.

“I know I have a lot more to prove, so I can’t let it get to me,” Donald said. “I’m starting from scratch again. I’m a rookie again. I haven’t made a tackle, haven’t made a sack, so I’ve got to earn that. I’m just staying focused on what I’ve got to do and continuing to work on my craft.”

Adding this talented, hard-working rookie to the Rams’ defensive line should only pay positive dividends in 2014.

LEFTOVERS

…There were 15,723 fans in attendance at the third annual Rams Fan Fest, and players were appreciative of the effort folks made to come out and support them.

“This is probably the most exciting day we have in training camp,” Bradford said. “I thought the energy was good today. It’s always good to get in here and play in front of our fans.”

…While Bradford has been wearing a knee brace since college, the quarterback said the rest of the Rams QBs would now sport them now as well. He’s used to feeling the extra protection, but his fellow signal callers are not.

“It’s funny, all the other quarterbacks have to wear them now, too, and they kind of complain,” Bradford said. “But I’m like, if you wear them for a while, it kind of goes away.”

UP NEXT

The Rams have a day off on Sunday before getting back to business with a practice open to the public on Monday at 3:30 p.m.