ST. LOUIS — Conditions appear favorable for St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford to have a breakout season.
The Rams upgraded protection with free agent left tackle Jake Long, picked up a premier tight end in Jared Cook and addressed a long-standing deficiency at wide receiver by drafting Tavon Austin with the eighth overall pick.
Plus, there’s no learning curve in the second season with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. That’s what has Bradford excited the most about his role in leading a team that’s gone a decade without a winning season into playoff contention.
The first day of training camp, they were deep into the playbook working on blitz pickups and other “exotic” wrinkles.
“I could be here for days talking about that,” Bradford said. “We have an opportunity to build on what we were able to do last year and not start from scratch.
“I think that’s our biggest challenge as a group, to not come out and be complacent, and do the same things, but to grow, and become better.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher refuses to put too much on the shoulders of the first overall pick of the 2010 draft.
“I’ve said this all the time: The better the people that are surrounding him are, the better chance he has of taking another step,” Fisher said. “I think we’ve done everything we can to this point.”
Bradford is a former NFL offensive rookie of the year and is coming off his best season with a career-high 21 touchdown passes. He has yet to join the upper echelon at his position, and the two quarterbacks taken first overall the last two years have made a much bigger splash.
Cam Newton set a rookie record for yards passing in 2011 with the Panthers and Andrew Luck broke that mark while leading the Colts to the playoffs last year. Colt threw 10 fewer interceptions than Peyton Manning did as a rookie in 1998.