ST. LOUIS — After suffering a season-ending torn left anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in nine months, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said Thursday he will be back.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time and focusing on getting it fixed and starting rehab again," Bradford said at Rams Park in his first comments since getting hurt. "That's all I'm going to focus on. Unfortunately, I think I know what it's going to require and what I'm going to have to do.
"I'm coming back as strong as ever."
The 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick was injured in the first quarter in the Rams' third preseason game at Cleveland. Bradford was hit on his left side by Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant as he threw a pass. Bryant ran around left tackle Jake Long on the play.
Bradford hopped briefly on his right leg before dropping to the ground. At first Bradford believed he would be OK. His first thought was maybe just some scar tissue was broken up.
Certainly, the thought of his ACL being torn again didn't enter his mind.
"It didn't hurt nearly as bad as the one in Carolina last year," Bradford said. "By the time I got to the sideline, I felt fine. I walked into the locker room and I felt fine, you know.
"Then the doc did some tests. He said. 'Unfortunately, I'm concerned about your ACL.' Then we found out the next day I had torn it."
No date for surgery has been set, Bradford said. Again, famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation.
There are a few dates being discussed, but nothing is set yet.
Overall, he said he feels good.
"Well, physically actually, I feel great right now," said Bradford. "My knee feels great. There's no pain. If you saw me walking around, you'd have no idea that my knee was torn. So that's a positive. Mentally, obviously it's tough.
"To put all the work into rehab to get back to full strength and to have it taken away in a preseason game, I'm not really sure how I can describe what it feels like."
The 6-foot-4, 224-pound Bradford played in two preseason games. He was 4 for 9 for 77 yards against Cleveland before he was hurt.
Journeyman Shaun Hill will start Sunday for the Rams against visiting Minnesota. Austin Davis is the backup. Case Keenum is the third-string quarterback. Rookie Garrett Gilbert is on the practice squad.
Bradford will remain with the team and help the quarterbacks.
"Absolutely, I enjoy being around here," Bradford said. "I'll be rehabbing here, sitting in on meetings and going out to practice.
"It's going to be pretty similar to last year."
The Rams and Bradford are used to this scenario, unfortunately.
Kellen Clemens stepped in last year and St. Louis shifted to an offense geared around the running game. The Rams were 3-4 under Bradford, who had thrown for 1,687 yards and 14 touchdown passes against four interceptions. St. Louis went 4-5 with Clemens.
Bradford has played just two complete seasons, 2010 and 2012, where he played in all 16 games. He was limited to 10 games in 2011 when a high ankle sprain hobbled him most of the year.
After tearing the ACL and having surgery, the Rams were counting on him to return and have a big year, and possibly make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. It's been a long dry spell in St. Louis. The Rams have not had a winning season since 2004. The club won just 15 games over a five-year span beginning in 2007.
To get better, the Rams invested the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft on offensive tackle Greg Robinson of Auburn. Robinson played guard and tackle throughout the preseason, but he won't start the opener.
The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson is behind Rodger Saffold at left guard. The 21-year-old Robinson started three of the Rams' four preseason games.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he's not concerned about Robinson not starting.
"He's doing a good job. He's playing guard, he's playing tackle," Fisher said. "He's doing both in practice. He's doing them all through preseason and he's gotten better each week.
"We made the decision that in the opener that we're better off going with experience. Doesn't mean to say that he won't play in the game, but we're going to go with guys that have a lot of snaps under their belt right now."
Robinson said he understands.
"I'm doing what the coaches ask of me," Robinson said. "My goal is to get better each day. I'm competing for a spot. I'm not getting down on myself even though I'm not starting."