“Fresh meat!” was the message from the Cardinals’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
The tone has certainly changed as the months have passed and with Bradford set to start against the Cardinals Sunday in St. Louis. Dockett, asked if he was excited to have a shot at Bradford in a game that counts, would only say “I like getting after any quarterback.”
It’s safe to say the Cards will make sure to get after this one.
Bradford had an impressive preseason, good enough that most are convinced the Rams indeed found their franchise quarterback of the future. But this will be his first regular-season game, his first regular-season speed, against a defense anxious to show what it is capable of after an offseason of restructuring.
“They’re not going to ask him to do a whole lot,” linebacker
What that means specifically, of course, is being kept under wraps. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said it’s about keeping Bradford off balance, and “that’s not off-balance-so-every-time-we-blitz but off balance in terms of I don’t know what the hell is coming.”
The Rams understand all that, of course. St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo – a former defensive coordinator – sat with Bradford watching video Tuesday with Spagnuolo trying to give Bradford hints at what kinds of things the Cards might throw at him.
Spagnuolo acknowledged defensive coordinators “get a little more creative” for a rookie QB.
“Are we going to be able to draw up or guess everything they’re going to throw at me? No,” Bradford said. “At the same time, I’m comfortable in our schemes. I know where my protection is strong. I know where it’s weak. I feel comfortable enough knowing I can get the ball out of my hand if they do decide to pressure me.”
Whatever Bradford brings to the game, the Cardinals are still focused more on what Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson will do. Bradford said the Rams aren’t leaning on Jackson anymore given the quarterback’s inexperience, but the Cardinals are confident if they stop Jackson, the Rams will have major problems.
There is another theme for the Cardinals this week that doesn’t include Bradford. That is finding the defensive identity. With a new free safety (
Bradford – and the Rams – just happens to be the first proving ground.
“We haven’t played together as a unit for very many snaps,” Davis said. “We have to see what our personality is. We have to make sure our mistakes are minimal.
“I think we are a good group. But we have to put it out there on Sundays.”