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Sam Bradford can't be kept any cleaner in the pocket

Once, Carson Palmer had a secret. Before preseason games started, he admitted he wanted to be hit once he got behind center.

"I like to get that soreness out of the way," Palmer said, adding later that he didn't want his offensive line to know, but "If we miss a block here or there, that's OK."

That brings us to Sam Bradford, the current Cardinals quarterback. The idea of Bradford getting hit, especially in games that do not count, is wince-worthy. But it's a necessary part of the game. (It should be noted, however, that Palmer's comment came in August 2014, the season he suffered a second ACL tear -- albeit non-contact.) Even Bradford kind of acknowledged that, especially following a season in which his knee was hurt again and he played in just two games.

"It's just hard to simulate that game speed in practice," Bradford said. "After having the injury last year and not playing a ton of football, just feeling bodies in the pocket, feeling people around my leg, being able to move around, that's what I'm trying to get out of (this week's game)."

There's good reason to feel this way: Bradford has barely been touched thus far. Literally.

Bradford hasn't been bothered at all in any of the handoffs he has made. No shock there. But in eight pass attempts in two preseason games -- one was officially wiped out because of a penalty -- contact has been made with him exactly one time. And it wasn't a knockdown, only a slight push from the left hand of Saints defensive end Kyle Hendrickson. Every other time (and, it should be noted, every pass came from the shotgun formation) Bradford has been completely clean. There was even a play-action pass one time.

There are lots of ways to see this. Bradford is excellent at reading the defense pre-snap and knowing where he can go quickly with the ball. It shows what kind of offense Mike McCoy is headed toward, especially with Bradford behind center. It underscores a good job by the first-string offensive line so far.

But bottom line, Bradford hasn't hit the ground as a Cardinal. Not yet. And one guy who is OK with that is coach Steve Wilks, who doesn't necessarily need to see Bradford harassed.

"Let's protect him," Wilks said. "Let's keep people off his knees and from around his legs. That's what I want to be able to see. But when it happens, he has to be ready for it."

QB Sam Bradford
QB Sam Bradford

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