ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ Rosen ‘unbelievably fortunate’ to have Bradford as a mentor

Jul 29, 2018, 7:36 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2018, 11:04 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks Josh Rosen (3), Sam Bradford (9), Chad Kanoff (6) and Mike Glennon (...
Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks Josh Rosen (3), Sam Bradford (9), Chad Kanoff (6) and Mike Glennon (7) walk on the field during stretching exercises at the NFL football team's practice Thursday, June 14, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s been no surprise.

Ever since the Arizona Cardinals selected rookie quarterback Josh Rosen out of UCLA in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the conversation has been when — not if — Rosen will take over starting signal-caller duties. That, in part, has to do with the injury-riddled career of projected starter Sam Bradford.

But that’s not stopping Rosen from taking notice of the man in front of him.

“I don’t really think people understand how good Sam [Bradford] is,” Rosen told Sirius XM over the weekend. “I’m unbelievably fortunate to watch him and how he plays.

“I’m just really lucky to have that frame of reference to start the NFL, because I really believe he’s one of the better quarterbacks in this league.”

Bradford has shown he can play with the best of them.

In 2016, Bradford led the NFL with a 71.6 completion percentage and threw for 3,877 yards and 20 touchdowns. He tossed just five interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 99.3.

It looked as though his tear would continue the next season after opening up against the New Orleans Saints. He completed 27 of his 32 passes (84.4 percent) to go along with three touchdowns and a 143.0 QB rating.

The biggest issue, however, has been Bradford’s health.

After that Monday Night Football performance, Bradford would make just one more game in 2017 before he had to have his left knee scoped due to ACL injuries.

Bradford got the start against the Chicago Bears, but was clearly not himself. He threw 11 passes before being replaced by Case Keenum in the second quarter.

After signing a one-year deal with the Cardinals in the offseason, Bradford is looking to return to that high level of play.

“Sam can throw with the best of them around the league,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told Sirius XM. “Everybody’s seen that, everybody understands that when he’s healthy he’s one of the elite passers in the game.

“With the way coach [Mike] McCoy runs his system, getting the ball out of his hands quickly, I think Sam’s going to have a big season for us.”

Taking every precaution with Bradford, even having keeping him out of the conditioning test, the Cardinals are ready get him acclimated to the first-team offense.

So is Bradford.

“It’s definitely the best it’s felt since the injury last year,” Bradford said of his knee on Saturday. “Like I said, we had kind of had a plan in place all spring.

“We were really just trying to get back as much strength as possible, at the same time challenge it on the field, you know, moving around the pocket, running, trying to simulate as much football-type movements as possible.”

During Day 1 of the Cardinals’ training camp, Bradford missed on his first pass against the defense, but that was about it. He looked sharp and was able to fit numerous balls into tight windows.

Rosen, who rotated behind Bradford for the majority of the day, had a front row seat of the nine-year pro in action.

“To see him practice, he just completes the ball,” Rosen said of the veteran QB. “The ball just doesn’t touch the ground.

“I’m very lucky that that’s my intro into the NFL. I’m not exactly modeling my game after him, but more so taking what he does really well and trying to put it into what I do because Sam is really, really good.”

But as much as Rosen realizes Bradford’s abilities and understands his spot on the roster, the rookie is going to practice just as hard.

“I’m going to push him every single day and I’m going to act as the starter every single time,” Rosen added of his mindset. “I’m in this locker room, but also be aware of the situation.”

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