Sam Bradford spoke for the first time Friday afternoon since being replaced by Josh Rosen in the starting lineup, a quarterback who once thought this weekend’s trip to Minnesota would be a sort of homecoming against his former team.
Instead, Bradford will be inactive as the Cardinals’ third QB, doing what he can to help his rookie teammate maneuver through Rosen’s first NFL season.
“It is challenging,” Bradford acknowledged. “But you kind of have to push your pride aside. My role has changed. But I still have a job to do, I’m still part of this team, and I am still going to do everything I can to help this team. It’s just figuring it out how I can do that in this new role.”
Bradford started the first three games of the season, completing 50-of-80 passes for only 400 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. His last start began great – two first-quarter touchdown passes as the Cardinals jumped out to a 14-0 lead – but faded hard, including three Bradford turnovers.
The last turnover was a lost fumble while in field-goal range, the play that moved coach Steve Wilks to replace Bradford with Rosen. Rosen then was named starter the following Monday, and is heading into his third start Sunday against the Vikings.
“I think it was pretty obvious why (Wilks) made it,” Bradford said about the switch. “Obviously I wish I would’ve played better, that’s for sure. I wish I could’ve helped this team get off to a better start.”
Bradford also wasn’t surprised about being inactive, in light of the per-game bonuses he would receive if he is active on game days. In games Bradford is on the active 46-man roster, he receives an extra $312,000.
“I think I understand it,” he said. “Anyone would like to be out there. But I get that business side of it."
Had Bradford not gotten hurt last season in Minnesota, he’d likely be starting against the Cardinals Sunday. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he loved Bradford and his skillset, and only the injuries derailed Bradford’s time there.
When the 2017 season ended, a year in which Bradford played in only two games because of a bad knee, the Vikings let him leave in free agency (along with getting rid of Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum) in order to sign current starter Kirk Cousins.
“It obviously hurt him because I think he felt like this was a good place for him,” Zimmer said. “He had success, and he was feeling good about the things we were doing offensively. And then he got hurt. Really, it lingered on a lot longer than anybody thought it would.”
Bradford’s initial role in Arizona was to be the 2018 starter. Once Rosen was drafted, the idea was that Bradford would still be in place this season, paving the way for Rosen as soon as 2019. But the offensive issues – the Cardinals scored just 20 points while Bradford played in his almost-three full games – were too much.
“We can’t give Sam enough credit for what he has done for this team,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “Unfortunately, early on, we didn’t have the success we wanted to have. The day we decided in the game (to go to) Josh, Sam has been 100 percent behind Josh. It’s been that way since we drafted Josh.
“That’s what the great pros do. I can’t thank him enough, the way he’s handled it in a tough situation.”
Bradford said despite everything, he is still looking forward to the trip to Minnesota, to see former teammates and friends.
“You just kind of keep moving forward,” Bradford said. “I still have a job to do and that’s how I am trying to approach it. I still think I can help Josh in the meeting room and the practice field, and I’m trying to be an extra set of eyes and be there if he has any questions.”
IUPATI, SMITH RETURN TO PRACTICE
Guard Mike Iupati (shoulder) and tackle Andre Smith (hamstring) both returned to practice Friday on a limited basis, and while both are questionable for Sunday, coach Steve Wilks expressed optimism they would be available for the game.
Wilks had the same optimism for the other four players who were limited Friday and listed as questionable: Running back Chase Edmonds (back), who was listed on the injury report for the first time Friday, tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (foot) and defensive end Markus Golden (knee).
For the Vikings, tackle Riley Reiff (foot), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin), defensive end Everson Griffen (non-injury related) and defensive end Tashawn Bower (ankle) all are listed as out for the game. Running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring), downgraded to limited Friday, is questionable.
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings