QB enters Year 2 with reason for confidence

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Sam Bradford was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year without the roster upgrades the St. Louis Rams made in the offseason.

Now that the talent pool is deeper and he’s a year older and wiser, Bradford believes everything is going to be much, much better.

“There’s no question he’s more prepared,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He’s matured beyond his years.”

The Rams shed their doormat image with a six-win improvement last year, a 7-9 record that left them one game out of the playoffs in the weak NFC West. Bradford’s sound play in a no-frills offense helped make it happen.

Around midseason, Spagnuolo stopped referring to Bradford as a rookie.

An immediate gauge comes Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, a perennial NFC contender that signaled its intention to shoot for a Super Bowl in free agency.

“Obviously, everyone’s talking about Philly,” Bradford said Wednesday. “They deserve it. If we could come out and get a win against a team like that I think it would give guys on the team a lot of confidence.”

Bradford set NFL rookie records for completions and attempts and had 3,512 yards passing, second only to Peyton Manning. The former Oklahoma star was one of only three rookies to pass for 3,000 yards in league history, and last year was among three quarterbacks to play every snap.

The Rams figure to open things up under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Bradford said the two have developed a nice rapport. During a productive preseason in which Bradford threw five touchdown passes with two interceptions, he learned about minding the details.

“When you sit and watch tape with him, he points out things that I don’t see the first time or I’m not necessarilyi looking for,” Bradford said. “It’s always good when you have someone like that in the room with you.

“I think it’s been great, I think everyone’s really bought into the system.”

St. Louis also signed guard Harvey Dahl, wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and backup running backs Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood, plus anticipate immediate impact from their second-round draft pick, tight end Lance Kendricks.

Opponents shouldn’t be able to key as much on Steven Jackson, coming off his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Jackson is expected to get more pass-catching duty, too.

“We have the potential to be a very good offense,” Bradford said. “I think it could turn into a special year. It’s just a matter of everyone doing their job and being great on Sunday.”

The Eagles won the NFC East at 10-6 last year and were a touchdown favorite to win in St. Louis. The fortified secondary features cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

“They’re good, they’re really good,” Bradford said. “We’re going to have to be good on Sunday, there’s no doubt about it.”

Tight end Mike Hoomanawanui remained sidelined by a right calf injury which likely will sideline him for the opener. Hoomanawanui caught three touchdown passes as a rookie despite missing half the season with high ankle sprains to each leg, and would figure in a dual tight end package along with Kendricks.

“We’re trying to get him there,” Spagnuolo said. “You rush it and then you set it back. We’re going to be really careful.”

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