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Rams QB Bradford picked as NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Top draft choice, top rookie.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford won The Associated Press 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Friday.

The first overall selection in last year's draft, Bradford guided the Rams from the embarrassment of a 1-15 record to a 7-9 mark. In the weak NFC West, that was good enough to contend for the division title; St. Louis lost out on a tiebreaker to the Seattle Seahawks.

"I think the more I'm out there, the more comfortable I become," Bradford told The AP. "It's been like that all year. There's been some ups, there's been some downs, but I feel like for the most part I've learned from my mistakes each week. I think the game's stating to slow down a little bit, but I really still have a long way to go before I'm as comfortable as I want to be."

The voters certainly were comfortable with Bradford's passing and leadership.

Bradford received 44 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Only two other rookies received votes: Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams four and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey two.

"It's a tremendous honor to win an award like that," Bradford said in an interview Friday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." "When you look at the past and see some of the guys who have won the award, and to know I've joined that grp of guys, it's really humbling."

Bradford is the fourth quarterback since 2004 to win the award. Before that, no quarterbacks had won it.

"If you asked me before the season, I probably wouldn't have said that we would have thrown the ball as much," Bradford said. "As a quarterback, you love to throw the football. So the fact that our coaching staff feels comfortable with the ball in my hands just gives me confidence. It makes me feel very good about going out there on Sundays."

Health was one of the major questions about Bradford when he came out of college.

Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy as a redshirt sophomore, when Oklahoma lost to Florida in the BCS national championship game, then decided to stay with the Sooners for another season. It was cut short by an early shoulder injury, and Bradford barely played in 2009. Still, he so impressed pro scouts in postseason workouts that he was a consensus No. 1 pick.

The questions about Bradford's durability remained, and he answered them by taking every snap this season. He threw 590 passes, completing 60 percent for 18 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.

"I take a lot in that, especially coming off the shoulder injury last year and knowing that there were a lot of questions about my durability, about my ability to take hits in this league," Bradford said. "So the fact that I've been able to take every snap with this offense, I do take a lot of pride in that."

[internal-link-placeholder-0]On NFL Network
Watch "NFL Total Access" (7 p.m. ET) during Super Bowl week for the exclusive reveal of The Associated Press' NFL player and coach awards.

Monday: Defensive Player of the Year

Tuesday: Offensive Player of the Year

Wednesday: Coach of the Year

Friday: Offensive Rookie of the Year

( Sam Bradford), Defensive Rookie of the Year ( Ndamukong Suh)

Saturday: Comeback Player of the Year (TBA)

Sunday: Most Valuable Player (TBA)

Bradford became the starter in training camp and never looked over that shoulder. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur placed their faith in him, and he came through like, well, a rookie of the year.

The organization's turnaround "definately wasn't just me," Bradford told "NFL Total Access." "It was everyone in the organization, everyone on our team. I really felt like we came together this year. You know, we believe in ourselves. Not a lot of people outside of the building gave us a chance to win more than two or three games, but we knew we could do it. We just kept battling all year, (and) we were one game away from making the playoffs."

Bradford's career didn't begin optimally: He threw three interceptions and was sacked twice in a 17-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. But he began to hit his stride in midseason, at one point going four straight games and five of six without being picked off.

Bradford's best performances came in a 36-33 victory over the Denver Broncos, when he had three touchdown passes and a season-best 308 yards through the air, and in a 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers that featured 25-of-32 passing and two touchdowns.

"He's obviously extremely talented, and I think he works his fanny off to make sure that he does the right things and masters the game plan," said Shurmur, now the head coach in Cleveland. "So to say I would be surprised, I would say no.

"To be thankful that he is what he is, I would say yes."

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was the first quarterback to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, in 2004, followed by Tennessee's Vince Young in 2006 and Atlanta's Matt Ryan in 2008.

Williams, a fourth-round pick (101 overall) from Syracuse, had 65 catches for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Pouncey, the rare offensive lineman to collect votes, was a standout in helping the Steelers win the AFC North title and reach the Super Bowl.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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