Bradford winning fans at Lindenwood scrimmage

Sam Bradford under center; photo by Sam Bradford, genuine item.

The Rams played their second annual Lindenwood scrimmage tonight in front of an appreciative crowd that happened to include SI’s Peter King. And while the Rams’ new $50 million dollar man didn’t take the first snap, he did make the most memorable throw:

Just leaving Rams scrimmage at Lindenwood U. Yes, Bradford looked like the genuine item. Superb go-route to Amendola in 2-min offense.

The throw came on a third-and-four from inside the Rams’ own 40, with less than a minute on the simulation game clock and “needing a field goal to win,” according to D’Marco Farr, who was manning the PA mic. Last year, this down and distance would have guaranteed a slant pattern or a screen pass — the playbook apparently closed down five yards past the line of scrimmage. But on this night, with the strong-armed rookie and a fleet of hungry young receivers, the Rams showed us a different look. Bradford gunned a beautiful throw down the sideline, hitting Amendola in stride more than forty yards down the field.

The play went for 53 before he was pushed out of bounds, and set up our men in white for the faux game-winner. For perspective, the Rams completed only one pass all of last season that went for more yardage.

Tonight’s big winners:

  • Bradford, obviously. The rookie had his best show since his debut a week ago, and both strong practices came in front of strong crowds. The kid acts like a big-game performer, and I love that. And I can’t dog AJ Feeley’s play tonight, the veteran looked much more poised and much less rusty than he had a week ago. He completed a nice pass of his own to Amendola in the early going. But as good as Feeley was, Bradford was better. After a jumpy start in the game’s first few snaps, he settled in and threw only one true incompletion — a throw behind Avery’s head that he nearly bent over backwards trying to catch — on the day. (He had a few balls dropped that were right on target.)
  • Amendola. He wasn’t targeted too often, but he was on the receiving end of two big-time scoring plays. He got big cheers from the crowd both times. And his primary competitor, Mardy Gilyard, didn’t make any big plays. (Neither was allowed to truly return any of the punts in today’s game — I guess the coaches aren’t ready to run their special teams full bore yet.)
  • Keenan Burton. The third-year receiver continued his strong camp with a series of catches, including an end zone grab and a nice 20+ yard run after the catch on a naked sideline screen. (Can you call it a screen if you have no blockers?) Unofficially, by my count he led all Rams wideouts in targets and catches, though Amendola probably had him in yardage.
  • Jerome Murphy and George Selvie. The defense was undermanned, with Ron Bartell, James Butler, Justin King, Bradley Fletcher, Marquis Johnson, James Hall, and Dorell Scott all on the sideline. But that gave extra reps to these two young players, and they both made the most of it. Selvie was credited with two “sacks” and had several strong rushes, and Jerome Murphy ran around laying hat on anything that moved, including a big play where he blasted the ball out of Daniel Fells’ hands.
  • Lindenwood’s FieldTurf. The Rams showed up with a bunch of players already out — including four of their top six cornerbacks — resting nagging bruises and strains. The last thing they needed was to lose more players to the turf. (Last year, the seasons of backup safety Eric Bassey and promising wideout Brooks Foster ended on the brand new surface. What should have been a light-hearted display for fans had a sour note.) Tonight’s practice didn’t have see the trainers on the field once, and that’s a small victory.

Relative Losers

A few players had chances to make an impression tonight — and unfortunately picked tonight to have a rough practice. With each passing week, the stakes get higher, especially for those in the underdog roles in camp.

  • Dominic Curry and Brandon Gibson. In a crowded position group of young, aggressive players, you can’t afford to fall behind. Gibson was forced to watch from the sidelines all night, and has to be burning to get back out there. But Curry was on the field, and dropped two consecutive Bradford throws. Both were catchable, and both would have gone for first downs. Bad chemistry with the “future of the franchise?” Not a good sign for the undrafted underdog.
  • Bobby Carpenter. Another practice, another invisible outing. Maybe once all night did he have his name called over the PA. I don’t think even that. Some players can be relatively invisible, but we’ll hear from the coaches about how he does “little things” right. “Some plays don’t show up on the scoresheet.” To be honest, if you’re a linebacker, the fans had better hear your name.
  • Chris Ogbonnaya / Rams run-blockers. Steven Jackson didn’t play, putting “Silent G” in the first team offense. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get much of anything going via the run. And it’s not as though he saw much daylight, either. #22 did make a couple of nice plays in the passing game, as did Ken Darby (working with Null and 4th-string QB Thaddeus Lewis). But whether it was the runner or the blocking, the only offensive production tonight came through the air.