INDIANAPOLIS -- By his own admission, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher is no longer surprised when any sort of speculation takes on a life of its own.
That applies to the constant rumor and innuendo that has seemingly surrounded Rams quarterback Sam Bradford nearly from the moment he suffered a torn ACL against Carolina on Oct. 20. The day after the injury, Fisher let it be known that Bradford would remain the team's starting quarterback in 2014. He said it again last week when he made an appearance on ESPN Radio with "Mike and Mike."
And Fisher, this time backed by general manager Les Snead, made it clear once again Friday afternoon at the NFL scouting combine. They even threw a little humor into the mix.
"First of all, things have changed since the last comment," Snead said, laughing. "Cause this Favre character won a state championship as a coach. He might want to come back."
Snead was, of course, providing a comedic rejoinder referring to the Rams' interest in Brett Favre after Bradford's injury and Favre's recent accomplishment of helping a Mississippi high school to a state championship as part of the coaching staff.
But when it gets down to the real answers, both Snead and Fisher remain convinced Bradford is the right guy to handle the quarterback spot, now and in the future.
"As I said a couple years ago, one of the two reasons I took this job was because of Sam," Fisher said. "We as an organization, coaches, Les and everybody has a great deal of respect for him and trust in him, and he's our guy. So I don't know where that is coming from.
"This year, for the record, he was playing pretty good football despite the fact that we didn't win a lot of games early. But project it out over the course of the season had he stayed healthy, I think you would have seen a different player. We have zero concern whether or not he comes back. He's working hard, he's there every day, he's excited about it."
Snead also said he will not lose any sleep over Bradford's rehab, pointing out that Bradford is recovering well and could begin throwing this summer. Although Bradford now has the knee injury to add to a high ankle sprain suffered in 2011, Fisher added that he doesn't believe durability is an issue for Bradford moving forward.
Fisher and Snead pointed to Bradford's production starting in Week 5 when the offense found a solid running game, Bradford's 5-2-1 record against the NFC West over the past two seasons, and Bradford's experience as reasons they want to retain him.
According to Snead, the parties began having discussions with Bradford's representatives in spring of 2013 about a possible contract extension, but the timing wasn't right for both sides. Asked whether those conversations will continue this spring, Snead said the sides remain in touch and the talks are "ongoing and active."
It wouldn't be a surprise to see negotiations on a new contract for Bradford go about as far as they did last year, which is to say nowhere. It's believed Bradford is willing to wait on an extension and play out his deal before engaging in those talks. It would also be logical for the Rams to wait and see how he returns from the knee injury before moving forward.
At least for 2014, the fact remains that Bradford will again be the starting quarterback.