ST. LOUIS (AP)—Sam Bradford(notes) took the field to a big ovation. Soon enough, reality sank in for the centerpiece of the St. Louis Rams’ rebuilding effort.
The No. 1 overall pick had an early case of the jitters, short-arming a pitch and bobbling a snap the first two plays, looked poised while hitting four of his first five passes, then ended with an extended rough patch in the Minnesota Vikings’ 28-7 preseason-opening victory Saturday night.
“It was fun to get out there, get hit a couple times, get hit, get knocked down, get back up,” Bradford said. “Just getting back into the flow of a football game was fun.”
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Sage Rosenfels(notes), chasing Tarvaris Jackson(notes) for the Vikings’ quarterback job while Brett Favre(notes) waffles on his future, was a standout even though both starting wide receivers are out with injuries. Rosenfels threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter against the Rams’ second-teamers and added a 71-yarder to Marko Mitchell(notes) in the third quarter, finishing 23 of 34 for 310 yards.
The 32-year-old Rosenfels knew before the game that he would be getting a lot of playing time.
“Mentally I was going into the game thinking like it’s a full game, it’s not going to be one series or two series and out,” Rosenfels said. “I got more and more comfortable as the game went on. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there, seeing real live action. A lot of guys did a lot of good things.”
Jackson started but wasn’t out there for long, taking six snaps on the opening series while going 2 of 4 for 11 yards.
Vikings coach Brad Childress had no news on the Favre front.
“I didn’t have a vision before the game. Nothing’s changed,” Childress said. “You know, you can’t have your cell phones with you out on the sidelines.”
Bradford completed only two of his last eight passes against Vikings second-teamers, finishing 6 of 13 for 57 yards while getting sacked four times. The Vikings gave the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner’s surgically repaired right shoulder a battle test with Jayme Mitchell(notes) getting 1.5 sacks on consecutive plays in the second quarter.
“I took a couple, landed on the shoulder,” Bradford said. “It’s not sore at all. We’ll see tomorrow how it feels, but right now it feels great.”
Bradford’s debut probably should be graded on a curve, given Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson did not take a snap and the Rams were the NFL’s puniest offense even with Jackson while going 1-15 last season. Jackson and Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson both dressed but only watched.
The Rams were handicapped the most, getting outgained 414-150, even though Childress took out all the starters except center Jon Cooper(notes) after the first series.
“In the first quarter we did a decent job,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “After that I think it’s obvious we’ve got a lot of things to work on, both sides of the ball.
“We’ve got plenty of time, nobody’s panicking.”
One of the players most victimized by the Vikings was right tackle Jason Smith(notes), the second overall pick last year who’s been bothered by a broken toe much of training camp.
St. Louis is 6-42 the last three seasons, a big reason the Edward Jones Dome was officially only two-thirds full with announced attendance of 40,801.
Bradford is the backup for now behind veteran A.J. Feeley(notes). But Feeley was shaky, narrowly avoiding interceptions on two passes that could have been returned for touchdowns while going 3 of 6 for 19 yards.
Danny Amendola(notes) scored on a 93-yard punt return for the Rams, but fumbled away his next chance at the Rams 16 that led to Rosenfels’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Logan Payne(notes) five plays later to tie it at 7. Garrett Mills(notes) whipped linebacker Chris Chamberlain(notes) on a 65-yarder the next series to put the Vikings ahead.
“Better now than in the regular season,” Amendola said. “Try to get the kinks worked out.”
Six Vikings offensive players did not play. Percy Harvin(notes) has missed all but two days of training camp due to migraine headaches and a funeral, and Sidney Rice(notes) has a hip injury.
Mills had four catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, Payne had seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown and Mickey Shuler(notes) added a 2-yard grab from Joe Webb(notes).