As promised, minicamp meant more work for Sam Bradford.
The quarterback was dropped into 11-on-11 plays for the first time Tuesday, which was the idea floated by coach Steve Wilks last week as the Cardinals come to the end of their offseason work.
The whole “plan” to prep Bradford going into the dead time before training camp, Wilks said, was to make sure he “felt great.” That is where everyone involved – Wilks and Bradford – say Bradford is now.
“He’s gotten stronger with his rehab,” Wilks said. “He’s definitely studied the playbook, understands the system. For the most part we have given him the (defensive) looks that he needs, but you want to make sure they are live (looks.)”
The work, Wilks said, should ramp up more Wednesday and Thursday.
Bradford, evaluating himself, echoed Wilks’ thoughts.
“When I got here, even before I got here and when I signed … we devised a plan,” Bradford said. “We have done a great job sticking to the plan and I think the plan has worked. My body feels really good right now.”
While there has been plenty of discussion about the progress of rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, similar praise has been handed out to Bradford throughout the offseason.
“Every day I am out there and I see Sam throw, he reminds me why he was the No. 1 pick in the draft,” General Manager Steve Keim said Tuesday morning on 98.7, Arizona’s Sports Station.
Bradford has helped Rosen when he can, an ideal setup for the Cardinals when it comes to their quarterbacks of the present and future. Bradford noted Tuesday that Rosen is gifted physically, but that it has been Rosen’s mental acuity that has stood out.
“Josh has done a great job,” Bradford said. “I’ve been impressed just with his ability to grasp things mentally. Coach has thrown a lot at us. It’s tough for a rookie to come in and understand everything being asked of him and I think he’s done a tremendous job of that.”
Whether that means Rosen could ultimately start this season instead of Bradford is an unknown. Wilks has repeatedly reminded everyone that while it will be a competition, Bradford is the starter. Keim said he doesn’t have an opinion, because “time will tell.”
“I think it’s too early to forecast,” Keim said. “When you draft a guy with the 10th overall pick you’d love for him to have success early on. But at the same time I think there is a way of doing it to protect the young man moving forward. If you think he’s your long-term future, you make sure it’s done from a healthy standpoint, meaning not just his physical part but the mental part as well.”
That would point to having Bradford under center, as long as he is healthy. The veteran acknowledged “the plan” would continue even after the veterans scatter for the summer after Thursday’s minicamp finale.
“The big part is coming out of this phase feeling like I do right now, but like everyone, I’ve got work to do before training camp starts,” Bradford said.
“I’ll be ready once we get back here in July.”
Images from the first day of mandatory minicamp