It's not your typical role model week for Sam Bradford.
Sure, the St. Louis Rams' rookie quarterback was excited to see how he matched up with Matt Ryan last month and Philip Rivers back in October. There's more of a connection this week headed into Sunday's game at New Orleans.
Before undergoing shoulder surgery last year, Bradford got some advice from a player who spent time on Dr. James Andrews' operating table. Drew Brees, who came all the way back from careerthreatening shoulder surgery in 2005, counseled the future No. 1 pick to be diligent with his rehab.
Some encouraging words from the doctor, too. Andrews told the future No. 1 pick Brees' injury was 10 times worse. And look at what Brees has accomplished for the Saints.
"He told me that there were people that were very skeptical he would be able to come back or even throw a football," Bradford said. "Knowing that he could come back from such a severe shoulder injury and knowing that mine wasn't nearly as bad gave me a lot of confidence going into the surgery. It let me know that going through the rehab I would be fine."
Brees and Bradford initially connected because they have the same agent, Tom Condon of St. Louis. Right away, there was mutual respect.
The most impressive aspect of Bradford's rookie season, to Brees' thinking, is his ability to not beat himself. Bradford has 17 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, three of them coming in an opening loss to the Cardinals.
"Some guys learn faster than others, and it seems like Sam Bradford learned that pretty quick," Brees said. "It took me getting benched three times to learn that in about three years, so he's much further ahead than I was at that stage, that's for sure."
The surprising NFC West-leading Rams (6-6) are 1-1 in Bradford's first two games against top quarterbacks, beating the Chargers 20-17 in Week 6 and losing 34-17 to the Falcons in Week 10. In those two games, the rookie was a combined 45-for-73 for three touchdowns and an interception (against Atlanta) that ended his NFL rookie-record run of 169 consecutive passes without a pick.
Not that Bradford's interested in keeping track, or trying to post a better yardage total than his counterpart. He just wants to keep getting better and to keep learning from his elders.
The Saints have the NFL's third-ranked offense and Brees leads the league with 25 touchdown passes, although his interception total is up at 16.
"They've got a lot of playmakers that push the ball down the field," Bradford said. "They're exciting to watch. We can take some things from that offense and do them here."
Especially from Brees, the four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP. Brees has passed for 21,932 yards since joining New Orleans in 2006, the most by a quarterback in any five-year span in NFL history.
"He makes plays in the pocket, he makes plays out of the pocket," Bradford said. "He's very accurate, and he always seems to get them into the right play."