Sam Bradford rarely shows emotion among reporters, and that made Wednesday a little different.
In his first media session since suffering his season-ending knee injury Oct. 20 at Carolina, the Rams quarterback had to gather himself when talking about what it felt like watching the Seattle game from the sidelines.
"It was tougher than expected, to be honest," Bradford said. "I thought after a couple years ago missing a few games with my ankle that I would kinda be prepared for it. But until you get out there and stand on the sideline and have to watch, it doesn't really hit you.
"And then after the game, I think that's the toughest."
It was here that Bradford paused for just a couple of seconds before continuing.
"It's kind of a helpless feeling," he said. "There's really not much you can do. It was pretty tough."
Bradford's surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday and will be performed by Dr. James Andrews. Bradford said the MRI showed no additional damage to the knee other than the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
"Yeah, everything else is intact," Bradford said. "It's just the ACL, and it's a clean tear, so that is a positive."
Bradford remains in the pre-surgery rehab mode, trying to get the swelling down in the knee while at the same time working to strengthen the surrounding muscles in the leg.
"It's progressed quite a bit since the injury," Bradford said. "It's gotten a lot better. The goal right now is just to go into surgery as strong as possible."
Walking with a limp but without the aid of crutches or a cane, Bradford has been a regular at Rams Park since the injury, something that doesn't happen that often with players suffering season-ending injuries.
"I'm basically just here to help," Bradford said. "It's kind of a little bit of a role reversal. Kellen (Clemen)'s been here for me a lot over the past couple years, and I'm trying to do the same thing for him that he's done for me.
"Sitting in the meeting room with him, watching tape. If he asks me my opinion, I'll be happy to give it to him, tell him things that I see at practice. Just little things like that, and overall just be there for support, really."
Besides, Bradford wouldn't know what to do with himself if he wasn't hanging out at Rams Park.
"Someone asked me: 'Why are you still here?' " Bradford said. "And it's like, 'Well, what else am I gonna do?' Football's all I have. If I weren't up here helping out, watching film, I honestly have no idea what I would do. Anything beats sitting at home watching TV, listening to music. So I'll be up here till they kick me out."
Coach Jeff Fisher appreciates having Bradford around.
"That's just Sam," Fisher said. "Nothing was said to him at all about coming around. And he just loves it. He's here to support the offense and help Kellen, and Brady (Quinn) and Austin (Davis). Gosh, he's on the sideline (Monday), even out there with 'Kel' when he was warming up during the pregame warmup."
But for a while after the surgery, Bradford won't be around. He has talked to other players, including some in the Rams locker room, who have undergone ACL surgery. They've told him the first stage of post-surgery rehab is the toughest, working to get range of motion, extension and flexion back.
When asked if he'd be ready to go next season, Bradford said: "That's the plan. I'm just taking it day by day. I'm trying to get better each day during the rehab process. And I'll be back when I'm back."
Bradford has watched the play that resulted in the injury, a fourth-quarter scramble in which he was shoved out of bounds by Carolina safety Mike Mitchell.
"I just kinda got pushed as soon as my left foot went into the ground," Bradford said. "And I think my foot just got stuck and the rest of my body kept going, and that's what caused the injury.
He has no problems with Mitchell's shove.
"It happened on the field of play," Bradford said. "I wasn't out of bounds. It's not like he came over and tried to kill me, either. So I think it was a clean play."
Bradford didn't see Mitchell's sideline taunting, which resulted in a fine from the NFL.
"But I know what Harvey Dahl went up and did," Bradford said. "I really appreciate that. It means a lot when your guys stick up for you."
Dahl, the now-injured Rams' right guard, confronted Mitchell twice after the play -- once when Mitchell made his original taunting gesture, and a few seconds later when after checking on Bradford, Dahl got an indication that he was badly injured.
Bradford was on pace to post career-best numbers in most major statistical categories when injured, showing noticeable improvement almost across the board.
"I felt good (with) the way I was playing," Bradford said. "I think that's the most frustrating thing about it is it seems like as an offense we were improving and we were getting better. Especially after the San Fran game, adding the run game and being balanced, I think that was really helping.
"Hopefully, I just come back next year and build off what I was able to do during the seven games and come back even better."
Unfortunately, besides the nine games he'll miss this season, Bradford almost certainly will miss the opportunity to work with the Rams' young, developing receiver corps during the offseason program and the spring practice period.
"That's definitely frustrating," Bradford said. "But me and Schotty (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) talked after the injury that the biggest thing for me to do now is develop relationships.
"And just because I can't be on the field working with those guys doesn't mean that I can't spend time with them in the meeting room. Doesn't mean I can't spend time with them away from the facility and just talk football. Talk our offense, our language, and just get more familiar with each other."
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