NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that a battery of tests confirmed that Bradford suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Saturday night's preseason win over the Cleveland Browns, per Rams sources. The tear is to the same ACL that the quarterback tore last season. Rams coach Jeff Fisher later confirmed the news at a Sunday news conference.
"We're thinking of Sam," Fisher said. "I met with him this morning. He's left the building to spend time with his parents, and I really can't give you any timetable as to when he's going to have this procedure done."
Bradford injured his left knee on a first-quarter incompletion before limping off toward the locker room with a pair of team trainers. Fisher was "optimistic" after the game, telling reporters that "it appeared just to be a hyperextension," but Sunday's round of testing revealed another trying setback for the former No. 1 overall pick.
It's devastating news for the Rams and Bradford. While the fifth-year starter has been wholly inconsistent over his 49 starts, the team has outwardly backed Bradford as their long-term answer under center. His future with the team is now entirely in doubt.
He played well over two preseason games this month, spreading the ball around and taking shots downfield with no visible lasting effects of last year's knee injury.
The job now falls to Shaun Hill, who will lean on a St. Louis ground attack led by second-year back Zac Stacy. Rapoport was told the team is open-minded to other options under center, but it's worth noting that St. Louis chose Hill over Mark Sanchez in free agency. The team believes in Hill and doesn't plan to change the scheme.
Hill hasn't made a start since 2010, when he stepped in for an injured Matthew Stafford to lead the Detroit Lions to a 3-7 record over his 10 appearances. He posted a 61.8 completion percentage with 16 touchdowns and 12 picks during that stint, but Hill has thrown just 16 passes since.
The Rams will need their backup to play nearly flawless football to keep pace inside the NFL's nastiest division.