ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has insisted throughout training camp that his knee wasn't a concern.
And by all appearances he has looked comfortable during practices.
His first major test comes Saturday when St. Louis plays host to Green Bay in both teams' second preseason game.
It will be the first time since Bradford tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in October at Carolina that he faces the prospect of being hit and tackled.
''It's important just being out there, knowing that I can get hit, knowing that I'm probably going to take a few hits in the preseason,'' he said after Tuesday's practice.
''I think it's probably bigger for everybody else to see that it's going to be OK, I'm going to get hit, it's part of the game. It's not a big deal.
''But it will be nice to take that first hit and get up knowing that everything's fine.''
Bradford suffered the injury after trying to scramble out of bounds. He got hit just before getting to the sideline and landed awkwardly on his left knee. The subsequent swelling delayed the surgery for about a month.
Since then, Bradford said everything has gone as planned. He hasn't missed any reps or pulled back from his routine.
Even missing the Rams' preseason opener last week against New Orleans was part of the progression established after the surgery to get him ready for the start of the regular season.
Now, he gets to see - as does everybody else - how prepared he and his knee are to be on the field.
''Really excited,'' he said. ''It's been a long time since I've been out there for real. I can't wait to get back out there. Going through OTAs (organized team activities) and going through training camp, that's great and all but we're here to play the game.
''So, to get out there on Saturday and take live snaps, I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully the guys are looking forward to having me back out there, too.''
Bradford was on pace to have his finest season before the knee injury.
He threw for 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions before missing the final nine games of the 2013 season.
If his production level had stayed the same, he would have finished with about 3,900 yards, 32 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
His previous best year came in 2012 during which he threw for just over 3,700 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Injuries limited him to just 10 games in 2011 after being selected as the NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2010.
To get back to where he was, Bradford said it's important for him to get more than just a taste of playing before the Rams open the season Sept. 7 against Minnesota.
''You can simulate live periods in practice and you can try to make things as realistic as possible, but I don't think you can every really simulate game speed,'' he said. ''The preseason games are a touch slower than what they are in the real season, but they're still amped up from practice.
''Especially as young as we are on the perimeter, as many reps as we can get during the games, really helps us.''
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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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