QB Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals sticking to the plan

Jun 12, 2018, 2:19 PM | Updated: 5:02 pm

Arizona Cardinals' Sam Bradford (9) throws during practice at the NFL football team's training camp...

Arizona Cardinals' Sam Bradford (9) throws during practice at the NFL football team's training camp, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Keeping quarterback Sam Bradford healthy is the Arizona Cardinals’ No. 1 priority. They want him to be able to play a full 16-game regular-season schedule in 2018, and perhaps beyond.

It’s why, then, they’ve limited his work here in the offseason.

During organized team activities (or OTAs), Bradford was more spectator than active participant, especially during team drills.

However, with OTAs now over and the Cardinals beginning their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, Bradford — guaranteed to make $20 million this season — is seeing his workload increase.

It’s all part of the plan, according to head coach Steve Wilks.

“We wanted to make sure that Sam felt great throughout this whole process. He’s gotten stronger with his rehab and those kinds of things. I think he’s, definitely, studied the playbook (and) understands the system,” Wilks said. “And I think, for the most part, we’ve given him the certain looks that he needs but most importantly, you want to make sure that they’re ‘live’ and that’s what we tried to increase today, the ‘live’ looks.”

Because Bradford is learning a new offensive system, not to mention working with new teammates, the Cardinals felt it was important for Bradford to increase his reps this week.

And that’s the plan for the remainder of minicamp, Wilks added.

“It was, obviously, good to be out there (doing) team (drills) today, get some of that work,” Bradford said. “To this point, really, just kind of been building into it. I feel really good right now and, obviously, to be out there and move around with the guys, it was a lot of fun today.”

Bradford, 30, is entering his ninth NFL season. In other words, he’s experienced and seen a lot; knowledge that he’s now more than willing to pass along to the three other Cardinals quarterbacks currently on the roster.

“I’m an open book. Ask me anything. I’ll give you everything that I’ve got,” Bradford said he told Mike Glennon, Chad Kanoff and Josh Rosen.

Of course, it’s Rosen, a first-round draft pick like Bradford eight years earlier, who has commanded a lot of the attention from fans and media.

Asked about Rosen, Bradford offered nothing but praise.

“He’s done a great job. I think I’ve been impressed just with his ability to grasp things mentally. Coach has thrown a lot at all of us in trying to learn the system and it’s tough for a rookie to be able to come in and to understand everything that’s being asked of him and I think he’s done a tremendous job of that,” Bradford said.

“And then physically, he’s just really gifted. You can see he can make all the throws. He’s got plenty of arm strength to push the ball outside the numbers, to push it down the field.”

Rosen, though, is considered the quarterback of the future. Bradford is the quarterback now, that is, if he can stay healthy.

That the Cardinals have been cautious with Bradford here in the offseason should not come as a surprise. Over the last four seasons, injuries—ankle, knee and shoulder—have limited the former Heisman Trophy winner and 2010 No. 1 overall pick, to just 31 games.

Upon his signing in March, Bradford met with several members of the Cardinals training staff, including head athletic trainer Tom Reed, strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris and physical therapist Brett Fischer, to come up with a plan, they hoped, would best keep Bradford on the field.

“The plan was to get stronger, to feel good coming out of this part of the offseason so that during the five weeks leading up to training camp, I could really build on what we had done here and come into training camp ready to go,” Bradford said. “I feel like we’ve done a great job sticking to the plan. I think the plan has worked and my body feels really good right now.”

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QB Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals sticking to the plan