After coming off what was arguably his best practice in Eagles training camp so far, Sam Bradford had some very positive news to share about the status of his recovered knee. When Bradford was asked how he felt relative to where he expected to be, he responded with the following.
"You know, I think I feel better than what I was expecting," Bradford said. "I really thought my knee would hold up but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t put it through four days of practice before coming into camp. But the way my knee feels right now feels great so I’m really happy with where I’m at right now."
Perhaps more important than how Bradford has been throwing the ball is that he's been able to do it without any limitations. The quarterback has been a full participant in each of Philadelphia's first four training sessions and there doesn't seem to be any plan to pull him back. Earlier this week, Chip Kelly said he expects Bradford to start in the Eagles' first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Aug. 16.
While getting (and staying) healthy is important, the next step is for Bradford to prove he can play at a high level. There were obviously times in St. Louis where Bradford struggled even when he was at full health. As we've reviewed, some of those issues were due to a lack of talent around him. Bradford constantly had to deal with drops from wide receivers, a run game that wasn't overly threatening, and a lackluster offensive line. In Philadelphia, Bradford feels confident he has the best chance he's ever had to succeed.
"I think from top to bottom this is probably the deepest team I’ve ever been on," Bradford admitted. "You look at what we’ve got outside, what we’ve got at the tight end position, what we’ve got in the running back room … I mean, it’s three, four or five deep at each position. I think that just plays into our advantage. Especially at the tempo we play in and as many plays as we run because we can sub guys in and we don’t miss a beat. The defense has to keep their guys on the field and they get tired, and that’s when our tempo really plays to our advantage in the third and fourth quarter."
The Eagles traded for Bradford thinking they can make the most out of the former No. 1 overall pick by surrounding him with more weapons than he's ever had. It also doesn't hurt that the offense is being orchestrated by one of the best offensive mind in the league in Kelly.
The best quarterbacks in the NFL tend to elevate the rest of their team. Bradford hasn't really been able to do that to this point in his career. Instead, the Eagles are hoping they can elevate his performance by pairing him with a strong running game and dynamic, young pass catching talent. Only time will tell if Bradford's assessment about his surrounding talent makes a difference for him.