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Negotiations continue as Bradford misses Rams' first workout

ST. LOUIS -- The most prominent Rams newcomer missed the first day of rookie workouts Thursday. Teammates expect to see quarterback Sam Bradford soon enough.

Veteran A.J. Feeley, who will be the Rams' starting quarterback until Bradford is ready, said missing one day of practice is no big deal.

"It's not the end of the world," Feeley said. "You'd like to have him out here to work these guys, but he's been through the whole offseason program.

"Sam's a smart guy, he's bright. I don't see him lagging, I don't see him sitting at home on the couch not doing anything."

Offensive tackle Jason Smith's experience last year might be a blueprint for the timetable on Bradford, given that he and the quarterback have the same agents, Tom Condon and Ben Dogra of St. Louis. Smith was the second overall draft pick by the Rams last year and signed a five-year contract worth as much as $62 million with $33 million in guaranteed money in time for the first full-squad workout.

This year, the first workout is Saturday.

Quarterbacks and players coming off injuries also are participating in the early drills. Smith missed the second half of his rookie season because of a concussion and fractured a toe in June.

"I've never been the No. 1 pick, so I don't know what he's going through," Smith said of Bradford. "If I would have missed days, I would have missed a lot. I'm sure he'll get here in a timely fashion, he has great agents working for him."

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Kevin Demoff, vice president of football operations, reported nothing new in negotiations with Bradford. The coach remained optimistic, but he also seemed weary of discussing the topic.

"Like every other head coach, you want your players here, but I understand the process," Spagnuolo said. "Can I take that line and put it on a tape recorder?"

Second-round pick Rodger Saffold signed a four-year contract worth as much as $6.8 million with $3.9 million in guaranteed money Wednesday. He spent most of the first workout at left tackle, with Smith on the right side.

It had been assumed that Smith would start at left tackle to replace Alex Barron, who was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, with Saffold plugged in on the right side.

"Both those guys in my mind right now are interchangeable," Spagnuolo said. "At this point right now, we're just looking for versatile guys."

Saffold is wearing Orlando Pace's No. 76 with the blessing of the seven-time Pro Bowl pick, although they have yet to speak.

"He is a hard guy to reach, I'm finding out," Saffold said. "He's definitely let me know and there's going to be a point where I get a hold of him and I'll probably have nothing to say."

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who missed most of his rookie season because of two torn ligaments in his right knee, was among the pleasant surprises for the first workout. Fletcher's injury required two operations, and the team had feared last year's third-round pick might not be ready in time for the opener.

"There isn't a guy that worked any harder than Bradley," Spagnuolo said.

Cornerback Jerome Murphy, a third-round pick this year, was on the field after a minor scrape with the law. He was arrested in Tampa, Fla., this past weekend for driving with an expired license in his 1996 Impala.

"They say it was loud music, but my music wasn't even up," Murphy said. "It was a nice car. That's what I figure it was."

Spagnuolo said he told Murphy "I was glad he was here. I think it's smoothed out and taken care of."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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