EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Thinking back to his time at the University of Oklahoma, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford can't recall being on any sort of plan to manage the number of throws he would make in a given day.
To Bradford's recollection, the plan was to throw the ball "about 500" times then put some ice on his right arm after practice. Those days are long gone, especially now that he's working to return from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
"He’s throwing very well," coach Jeff Fisher said Saturday. "We’re watching the pitch counts right now, and he’s not having any problems and you can see those balls were humming today.
"We’re just watching and monitoring it. We’re going to make sure we don’t do too much.”
When Bradford returned to practice in the spring, he was noticeably bigger in his upper body thanks to a rehab in which he couldn't work out much else. He intimated in the spring that he might have a stronger arm coming off the knee surgery.
So far, Bradford's arm is certainly no worse for the wear despite getting plenty of work in practice. In fact, Bradford's ball seems to be coming out with as much or more velocity than in years past. During Saturday's practice, Bradford had plenty of zip on all of his passes, none more than the perfectly thrown 60-plus yard touchdown pass he threw to receiver Kenny Britt.
And those deep balls have become something of a training camp staple, especially in the past week with the pads on and the protection much-improved.
"Coming into this camp is probably the strongest I’ve been from the waist up and I think it probably has paid off a little bit," Bradford said. "I feel like I do have a little more zip on the ball and feel like I can make some of those throws that maybe were a little slower last year.”
Of more pressing importance for Bradford is the recovery from his knee surgery. Bradford has looked healthy in every practice with the possible exception of a but of hesitation when he has to move out of the pocket and make a throw on the run.
The precise plan for Bradford in the preseason is unknown now but will gain clarity this week as the Rams open the exhibition schedule Friday night against New Orleans. Fisher has hinted that the Rams might be cautious with Bradford in the preseason games by limiting his snaps or potentially holding him out of games all together.
To this point, though, Bradford hasn't had any issues that have kept him out or forced Fisher to back him down from any drills. If Fisher does opt to hold Bradford out against the Saints, Bradford says he'll understand.
"It’s totally coach’s call," Bradford said. "I’m going to be ready to go. If he tells me I’m playing, I’m going to be pumped to get back out on the field. If he feels like it’s best not to go out there Friday then I trust him and I’ll be ready to go the following week."
Not that Bradford would mind getting back in the mix sooner than later. The true extent of where Bradford is physically and mentally won't be known until he takes that first hit, a couple of close calls in early practices notwithstanding.
"I got hit the first day of training camp this year if you didn’t see that one so I kind of got that one out of the way," Bradford said. "But there’s definitely a part of me that just wants to get back out there and just feel the speed of the game again, take that first hit and just prove to everyone else that I’m going to be fine more than myself. I know I’m going to be ready to go."