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    The worst-case scenario fear surfaced in Sam Bradford’s mind at midseason Authentic Evgenii Dadonov Jersey , in the aftermath of the 30-year-old quarterback’s latest surgery on his left knee.

     

    This procedure was an arthroscopic cleanup, not another reconstruction, but that didn’t quiet the question about whether he’d be able to resume his career.

    ”That was a battle I fought for a few weeks,” Bradford said. ”But it seemed like each day where it got better, each week where it felt like I was making true progress and could do a little bit more, those thoughts started to leave my mind. I started to become more confident in how I felt on my knee and what I was able to do.”

    Bradford returned to practice with the Minnesota Vikings this week, the earliest he was eligible to do so after being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8.

    The Vikings can put him back on the active roster for the playoffs at any time, with a decision required by Jan. 23 if they advance to the Super Bowl.

    Bradford would likely only be the second or third option at that point behind Case Keenum and possibly Teddy Bridgewater, but in this unpredictable sport the potential of him being summoned into duty can’t be dismissed.

    ”I’ve been working extremely hard to be able to get back out there, and so just to be out there and be able to go through these two practices, it’s been great,” Bradford said on Wednesday, his first mass interview in three months. ”I think we’re still just taking it one day at a time.”

    Bradford, who tore his ACL in 2013 and 2014 when he was with the St. Louis Rams, performed brilliantly in the season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints, during which he aggravated the knee.

    Keenum started the next three games, until Bradford had made sufficient enough progress to be cleared to start at Chicago on Oct. 9. He hobbled around in the first half against the Bears that night Josh Malone Jersey , though. He took four sacks and produced only three points before giving way to Keenum again late in the second quarter, this time for good.

    Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman described the injury as natural wear and tear, but Bradford tried a variety of treatments to try to strengthen the joint without success before ultimately opting for the surgery.

    Finally, he said, the knee is feeling as good as it has since training camp.

    ”I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how it’s going to hold up. But I didn’t know how it was going to hold up after the previous two operations,” Bradford said.

    ”I don’t think anyone knows how their body is going to hold up. All you can do is try to get it as strong as possible.”

    Bradford kept up a behind-the-scenes presence with the Vikings throughout his rehabilitation, assisting Keenum with the game-planning and attempting to remain engaged with the team during its run to a 13-3 regular season record and a first-round bye for the playoffs.

    ”I know it’s been a hard year for him battling that knee, so it’s good to see him out there feeling good,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

    The what-could-have-been feelings were inevitable for Bradford, given the team’s success without him, but calling it career before all options were exhausted was not entertained even with career earnings well over $100 million.

    ”You realize how special it is to be on the field with your teammates, being able to compete out there in the National Football League,” Bradford said.

    ”That’s one of the greatest honors there is. I think once you have a taste of that feeling, it’s really hard to let it go. I think for everyone, it’s what drives you to come back.”

    Rudolph, for his part, pushed through a sprained right ankle over the past three games.

    ”I can’t tell you what Plan B would’ve been had we had to play a game this week. I just would’ve been out there and been a terrible football player like I have been for the last three weeks Clark Harris Jersey ,” Rudolph said. ”Getting to this week off is big for me.”

    Well, that didn’t last long.

    The Los Angeles Rams’ first playoff appearance in 13 seasons came to a quick end Saturday night when the young, upstart team led by the NFL’s youngest coach was schooled by Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, who won the wild-card game 26-13.

    It was the Rams’ first playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1979 and their first in Southern California since 1986.

    Only six Rams players had playoff experience, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who went 0-6 with the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Whitworth said it was natural that players would be nervous in their first playoff appearance.

    However, second-year quarterback Jared Goff downplayed the team’s lack of postseason experience.

    ”I think they played better than we did,” Goff said. ”Playoff inexperience, I don’t know what that means. Each game’s the same. This one has a little bit more meaning to it, of course. But we did not play well. And if we played like this two weeks ago against the same team, we would have lost as well.”

    The Rams fell behind 13-0 thanks to two special teams gaffes by Pro Bowler Pharoh Cooper. Todd Gurley got going too late to help, although he did finish with 101 yards rushing. Goff made some nice passes, but also had some misses and watched his teammates make some drops.

    Cooper fumbled on a kickoff return late in the first quarter when he was hit by Damontae Kazee, with Kemal Ishmael recovering at the Rams 32.

    Devonta Freeman capped the short drive with a 3-yard scoring run to give the Falcons a 13-0 lead.

    Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 29 and 51 yards in the first quarter.

    The Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead in last season’s Super Bowl, had their first score set up by a special teams blunder by the Rams that allowed Atlanta to almost completely flip the field.

    With the Falcons forced to punt from their 14, Cooper was indecisive and let the ball bounce at about the L.A. 40. It hit off Blake Countess’ foot during a wild scramble that ended with LaRoy Reynolds recovering at the Rams 17.

    The Falcons had to settle for Bryant’s 29-yarder. He kicked a 51-yarder on Atlanta’s next possession.

    Cooper took the blame for the miscues. He said he should have protected the ball better on the kickoff return. On the punt Jessie Bates III Jersey , he said he needed to take control of the situation by yelling ”Poison,” as in, get away from the ball.

    ”They’ve been so good for us all year,” Goff said. ”They’ve won so many games for us. You can go look throughout the whole season how many games those guys, in particular Pharoh, have contributed to and put us in good field position. The first one was a freak one and the second one I know he’d like to have back. He’s a Pro Bowl returner and has done such a good job this year. I know we wouldn’t want anyone (else) back there.”

    The Rams had gone from 4-12 in 2016, their first season back in Los Angeles after 22 years in St. Louis, to 11-5 and the NFC West championship under first-year coach Sean McVay.

    The Rams were hosting their first playoff game in the Coliseum since Jan. 7, 1979, when they lost 28-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game. It was their first playoff game in Southern California since Jan. 4, 1986, when they beat the Cowboys 20-0 at Anaheim Stadium.

    McVay was born 20 days after that game.

    The Rams moved to St. Louis after the 1994 season and won their only Super Bowl after the 1999 season.

    They moved back to L.A. prior to the 2016 season.

    ”It’s hard,” Goff said. ”We didn’t want this to end at all. We’ve got such a special group of dudes in there, coaches and everybody. It’s such a special group. You don’t want it to end this early by any means. But I think we have a good, strong core group we’ve built this year.”

     

     

      January 30, 2019 1:25 AM PST
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