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Preseason Snaps Coming For Sam Bradford - But How Many?

Quarterback sees benefit of playing, despite inherent risk

The Cardinals have not yet decided exactly how much quarterback Sam Bradford will play in the preseason.
The Cardinals have not yet decided exactly how much quarterback Sam Bradford will play in the preseason.

Sam Bradford's history with the preseason contains tangible proof of why he and the Cardinals should be leery.

The second time Bradford tore his ACL was in the 2014 preseason, wiping out his year. With an offseason of the "plan" to prep Bradford for a potential 16-game season this year, the amount the quarterback actually plays in games that do not count must be analyzed.

But for Bradford, the preseason – however much he plays – is "beneficial."

"I think getting out there, especially after not playing a ton this past year … you can only simulate so much in practice," Bradford said Tuesday. "There is only so much live work you can get in practice, with people around you in the pocket, getting a feel for the pocket, feeling when the ball has to come out. Getting in there in the preseason and getting some of that awareness back, there is definitely some benefit to that."

How much Bradford plays in Saturday's preseason opener at University of Phoenix Stadium against the Los Angeles Chargers – or even if he will play – has not been determined by coach Steve Wilks. Wilks said he will discuss Wednesday with the coaching staff what he wants to do, and he has not yet said Bradford will start.

Wilks also reiterated Tuesday what he said Monday about certain high-profile players playing fewer snaps than the overall first unit. That doesn't mean he'll put Bradford in bubble wrap either.

"You've got to be able to get a feel with how the week is going, but most importantly it is based of who is in there – meaning the offensive line," Wilks said of determining Bradford's playing time. "There are a certain amount of plays I want to see with the 'ones.'

"We want to get some timing down in a game-type situation, receivers and the first offensive line. And it will be an opportunity for Josh (Rosen) to step in there."

Rosen figures to get a good chunk of playing time, both because the Cardinals want to ramp up the learning curve for the rookie, but also because they will not want Bradford out there a ton.

The Cards also can use veteran Mike Glennon and undrafted rookie Charles Kanoff behind center.

"(Sam) has looked pretty good overall," Wilks said. "Everybody is pleased right now with his performance and most importantly, his strength in his knee."

The Cardinals go to New Orleans in Week Two of the preseason – on artificial turf – and then the third game, usually the one in which starters get the most playing time, will be in Dallas on turf on "Sunday Night Football." The finale, in which Bradford figures not to play, is at home against Denver.

Bradford said his goal in the preseason is like every other year: To go through the process of the offense, to show they can execute as a unit.

However it goes, that doesn't necessarily work as a regular-season harbinger anyway.

"I know last year in Minnesota we struggled in the preseason but we didn't game-plan that much, and we came out and played great Week One," Bradford said. "I think everyone was really worried about us and thought we should have had more (preseason) snaps.

"I've had preseasons where you go out and light it up and come the regular season and you don't score any points so I don't think there is a magic formula or if anyone knows an exact number you need."