The Rams (2-1 this preseason) made Bradford the No. 1 overall pick in the draft this spring and Thursday’s preseason game at New England marked the rookie quarterback’s first start.
Bradford, who was starting because veteran A.J. Feeley was out with a thumb injury, had struggled during his first two preseason games but displayed on Thursday the potential he showed during his impressive career at the University of Oklahoma and that convinced the Rams he could be the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort.
He completed 15 of 22 passes (68.2 percent) for 189 yards and two touchdowns (both to rookie tight end Michael Hoomanawanui) and finished with a passer rating of 125.0.
The Oklahoma native, who began his first series trailing 7-0 after the Patriots’ Brandon Tate returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, led the Rams on four scoring drives in the team’s six possessions of the first half as St. Louis took a 20-14 lead into halftime.
The Rams had several impressive performances on Thursday, starting with the No. 1 overall draft pick. Hoomanawanui, the rookie from the University of Illinois, finished with four catches for 53 yards and two scores.
Danny Amendola caught five passes for 50 yards. Brandon Gibson caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Rookie quarterback Thad Lewis completed 11 of 14 passes for 120 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The final quarterback of the night, Keith Null, completed three of five passes for 25 yards and set up Brown’s game-winning field goal.
The running game was improved. Steven Jackson played just one series, but carried five times for 22 yards. Kenneth Darby, previously third on the depth chart, relieved Jackson and gained 35 yards on 13 carries.
Rookie Keith Toston racked up 41 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while Chris Ogbonnaya, who had been the second-string running back, gained 25 yards on eight carries.
Brown was good on his three field goal attempts. He made two in the second quarter — from 25 yards out and from 45 yards away — and had the game-winner as time expired in the fourth quarter.
The news was not all good for the Rams on Thursday. The team’s top wide receiver, Donnie Avery, was carted off the field with an apparent right knee injury late in the first half. Avery had 53 catches during his rookie season in 2008 and led Rams wide receivers with 47 receptions last season.
Nate Latsch is the publisher of GridIronGateway.com. For subscription information visit GridIronGateway.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/natelatsch