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Cardinals’ Sam Bradford ‘mentally tougher’ following injuries

Arizona Cardinals new quarterback Sam Bradford speaks at an NFL football news conference Friday, March 16, 2018, at the teams' facility in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Sam Bradford, Cardinals QB

Although Sam Bradford has dealt with injuries for much of his career, the new Cardinals quarterback has gained some positives through all the negative.

So when he was asked about his knee problems during his introductory press conference on Friday, he didn’t shy away from the answers.

“Each time, it’s a little bit tougher mentally,” he said. “As you get older, you just realize how precious each game is and how few of these opportunities that you are given and so I think each time that it’s taken away from you it’s a little bit harder because you realize what your missing out on and I think that’s what really gets you to put all the work in in the offseason and to not be able to be out there with your guys and to not be able to compete on Sundays, that’s the tough part about it.”

In eight NFL seasons, he’s played 16 games just twice, missing the entire 2014 season. He missed all but two games in 2017 and played in just seven in 2013. But while injuries have sidelined the former No. 1 overall draft pick on numerous occasions, there is some silver lining to his despair.

“You fight those battles mentally, but every time you go through that process and every time you turn that corner and your able to get yourself back on the field. I feel like I’ve come back mentally tougher and mentally stronger than I was the time before,” he said.

After an injury cut his 2015 season short and a trade shipped him to Minnesota, Bradford came back on a tear, completing a league-leading and NFL record 71.6 percent of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2016.

But the quarterback couldn’t replicate his stellar numbers in 2017 as he was hit with yet another injury, putting a damper on the Vikings’ Super Bowl aspirations.

That’s not stopping Bradford, though, as he makes his return back to the field.

“I’m motivated to go out there and to play the way that I know I can play,” he said. “I feel like there’s times where I’ve played good and then get hurt and not be able to continue to do it and so I want to go out there and just prove to myself for 16 games that I can go out there and play to the level I’m capable of.

“Obviously there’s some wear and tear on the knee, I’ve been through a lot with it but all I can tell you is how I feel right now and really kind of where it’s gone since I had the procedure in November,” he said. “It’s done nothing but get better and I feel good at the moment and that’s really all I can tell you about it right now.”

Now with a healthy knee and a new team, the next question is how long can he stay healthy in Arizona.

“Obviously it’s the million dollar question,” he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta after the press conference. “Right now, I’ve got a group of people that I surrounded myself with that have put together a program for me that I feel like gives me the best opportunity to stay healthy and to play 16 games and hopefully more at the end of the season.

“I know that what I’m going to do and what I’ve done to this point. I will put myself in the best position to succeed, to be healthy and that’s really all I can control and all I can do.”