ST. LOUIS — After the St. Louis Rams concluded their final practice of organized team activities Thursday, quarterback Sam Bradford said that he was feeling good about his recovery from the knee injury that shelved him for the final nine games last season.
"I was very happy with everything that went on in the OTAs," Bradford said. "A big part for me was obviously physically getting back out on the field, seeing how my knee reacted. It's been fantastic. We actually were able to do a little more than anticipated."
Bradford said his knee felt "the best it's felt all OTAs, and I'm just really looking to build on that" after taking part in the team portion (11-on-11 drills) of practice on both Tuesday and Thursday."
Bradford said he felt a little fatigue in his legs.
"I think part of it is building up the endurance in my legs," Bradford said. "I felt a little bit of fatigue today, but I think that is normal having not been out here practicing like that."
Despite wearing a brace on his surgically repaired left knee, he even completed a pass off a roll out.
"It was huge to be out here," Bradford said. "At the beginning of OTAs I just expected to be doing 7-on-7 (passing drills). To actually be out here and rep some of the new things that we put in, I think that was really big."
The Rams' veterans are off until July 24 when they have to report to Rams Park for start of training camp.
Fisher said he expected Bradford and left tackle Jake Long, who are both coming back from torn ACLs, to be able to participate in training camp and preseason games, though he stopped short of saying that they'd be participating in every practice.
"I think if we handle it right, they probably won't be every-day guys," Fisher said. "They are going to need a day off here and there, and we're going to stress recovery. There's no reason they can't play in preseason games."
Bradford said he was planning to spend his summer break at home in Oklahoma City, Okla.
He said his rehab regiment kept him in St. Louis the entire offseason except for a couple of weekend getaways.
"I'm actually looking forward to it," Bradford said. "Nothing cool. I'm just going to go back to Oklahoma, continue the rehab process and get ready for training camp. Come in as strong as possible."
Statistically, Bradford was having his best season before suffering the knee injury.
His quarterback rating was 90.9 and he'd thrown 14 touchdowns passes to only four interceptions before getting hurt in a Week 7 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Bradford said he remains confident in his abilities.
"I think every quarterback has that mindset," Bradford said. "You have to believe in yourself and you have to be confident.
"I'm confident in all of my abilities. I don't try to compare myself to anyone. You guys do a great job of that, but I believe in everything I do to get myself ready to play and I'm confident when I step on the field on Sunday that I can help us win."
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, has faced a lot of scrutiny and criticism as the Rams have failed to make the playoffs during his four seasons as the team's starting quarterback.
"To be honest, I don't pay attention to any of it," Bradford said. "I don't read the paper, I don't listen to the radio, I don't watch the news. "I'm focused on what I do here in this building. I know the preparation and time that I've put in. I know I'm doing the right things.
"Maybe it hasn't paid off yet and we haven't taken that next step, but I know that what I am doing is a process. Just be patient. I think this year we are going to take that next step."
Bradford said he listens to music, not sports talk radio when he's driving in his car.
"I listen to everything," Bradford said. "It just depends what mood I'm in. A lot of country. Pretty mellow stuff, but I'll throw in some rock every now and then."
Fisher gave Bradford a huge vote of confidence, saying he thought he had Pro Bowl potential.
"Oh yeah, there is no doubt," Fisher said. "He has the got the vision, the decision-making ability, the arm strength, the mobility to put up great numbers."
For the second straight year, the Rams' final OTA practice ended with a punt-catching contest between the offensive and defensive lines.
The defensive line won 5-3 as Alex Carrington, Matt Conrath, Eugene Sims, Deantre Harlan and Ethan Westbrooks all caught punts shot out of a Jugs machine.
"We actually had a pretty good group there," Fisher said. "I was impressed. Last year, I don't think they even touched a ball."
Asked if he found any new candidates for return duties, Fisher said, "No, we didn't. It was obvious that the defensive guys have been practicing. Not here, but some place."
Fisher said he was planning to take a vacation, but he refused to reveal his plans.
"I'll probably disappear for a while," Fisher said. "If I told where I was going I wouldn't be disappearing."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.