Sam Bradford: No problem if Rams add QB going into next season

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ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford said rehab from knee surgery has been an easier process the second time around.

The St. Louis Rams quarterback has been running for a few weeks, increasing the workload in the weight room, too.

Although he wasn't certain of a timetable for his return, he feels like he's "kind of turned the corner."

Bradford also understands the business side, and the uncertainty about a player who has made 49 starts and missed 31 games.

Coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday the Rams (6-10) would look to add a quarterback in free agency or the draft, and if Bradford's back he'd have to have his contract re-worked and then win the job.

After declining to "go into specifics," Fisher added, "I think it would make sense that both sides need to get together and work something out."

Bradford, enthusiastic and engaging, spent time at the podium just ahead of Fisher's news conference. He wouldn't mind if the team took a quarterback early in the draft.

"I would accept it," he said. "I feel like every time I step on the field, it's a competition. If they feel like that's in the best interest of the team, then I would support it and I would embrace the competition."

Both sides said there have been no discussions about re-working the contract. Bradford is heading into the final year of a six-year, $78 million deal and set to make a base salary of nearly $13 million, and his cap number is $16.58 million for next season.

Bradford missed the entire season after reinjuring his surgically repaired left knee in the third week of the preseason. He missed the last nine games in 2013 after injuring the knee for the first time and missed six games with a high ankle sprain in 2011.

The Rams haven't finished .500 since 2006 and haven't had a winning record since 2003. A healthy Bradford could have ended that drought.

Fisher noted in his three seasons with the team, Bradford is 5-2-1 against the NFC West and his replacements are 2-8.

"That's indicative of the type of talent he has," Fisher said. "Most of those wins came when this team wasn't, in our opinion, as good as it is now."

Reasons why the Rams have optimism going into next season:

REPLACEMENT QUARTERBACKS: Both 34-year-old Shaun Hill and Austin Davis did some good things, and also struggled at times. Davis lost the job with a poor game at Arizona — two interceptions, one returned for a TD, and a fumble that was returned for another score in a 31-14 loss. Hill threw a game-ending goal-line interception at San Diego when the Rams could have forced overtime and threw two interceptions in the finale at Seattle. The Rams gave up an NFL-high 10 return scores, eight of them by the opposing defense. At this point, Fisher is interested in both returning.

DEFENSE RULES: Gregg Williams' aggressive unit didn't allow a touchdown for three straight weeks, a pair of blowout shutouts over Oakland and Washington and a 12-6 loss to the Cardinals, who mustered four field goals. After no sacks the first five games, the Rams piled up 40 in the last 11 games. End Robert Quinn (10½ sacks) is going to the Pro Bowl a second straight season and there was sufficient depth to withstand end Chris Long's injury.

FAST STARTS, SLOW FINISHES: The Rams outscored opponents by 58 points in the first half and had NFC West champion Seattle down 6-0 at halftime of the finale. Seattle outscored them 20-0 in the second half, and they were among the NFL's worst at minus-88 after the break. Fisher doesn't blame play-calling, praising offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as "outstanding play-caller."

SPECIAL TEAMS: Johnny Hekker was a standout, leading the NFL in net punting and finishing second in gross punting. Benny Cunningham led the NFC with a 27.5-yard average on kickoff returns. The Rams were second in punt returns, with Tavon Austin averaging 11.2 yards with a 78-yard score.

YOUNG BUNCH: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was a standout, leading rookies with nine sacks and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Three other rookies started and played well — offensive tackle Greg Robinson, running back Tre Mason and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree has led the team in tackles both of his seasons and Austin has been an occasional big-play threat both of his seasons.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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