ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jeff Fisher shared the bad news with Sam Bradford on Sunday morning.
By the time the St. Louis Rams coach began his day-after news conference, he’d had several hours to digest the impact of an injury that puts the team’s once-rosy outlook in serious doubt, and to give a vote of confidence to journeyman backup Shaun Hill.
After announcing Bradford’s season-ending torn ACL in his left knee for the second time in nine months, Fisher said speculation about a trade was premature.
At the least, they’ll likely wait to see who hits the market in the first round of cuts on Tuesday when rosters must be at 75 players.
“It makes no sense to jump and react right now and try to fill the hole at whatever cost,” Fisher said. “We’re going to take our time and evaluate this.
“There’s going to be some quarterbacks that are released and there may or may not be some quarterbacks out there that have trade value.”
Fisher confirmed the extent of the injury first reported by ESPN and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said no timetable had been set for surgery.
“We lost Sam for the year,” Fisher said. “The news was devastating to him.”
The coach quickly added that everyone at Rams Park must quickly become accustomed to the 34-year-old Hill running the offense.
“We’re going to move forward, we’re not going to change anything,” Fisher said. “We have to move on and Shaun’s the guy.”
In all, five starters were hurt in the first half against the Browns Saturday night. Fisher called it a “nightmare.”
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was carted off with a knee injury and three others — guard Rodger Saffold and defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers — left with ankle injuries.
Johnson will be out 4-6 weeks with an MCL tear, but Fisher said Saffold, Langford and Brockers could play if needed in the preseason finale Thursday at Miami.
Bradford was injured in the first quarter of Saturday night’s 33-14 preseason victory at Cleveland. He was hit on his left side by Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant as he threw a pass, and hopped briefly on his right leg before dropping to the ground.
Fisher said the injury was a “one in 100” rarity.
“The knee was locked and something has to give,” Fisher said. “Unfortunately, the ACL gave.”
Bradford, the first overall pick of the 2010 draft, missed the last nine games last season after getting injured at Carolina. The Rams also have rookie Garrett Gilbert and Austin Davis on the roster.
Hill strolled through the auditorium to a meeting as Fisher walked to the podium and Davis also made an appearance during the news conference.
“Shaun’s our guy,” Fisher said. “I brought him here.”
The Rams shifted to a ground-heavy offense after Bradford was injured last year and Kellen Clemens inherited the job. They were 3-4 with Bradford and 4-5 with Clemens.
Unlike Bradford, Clemens was a bit of a scrambler. Hill is more in the Bradford mold of a drop-back passer.
After the game, Fisher thought Bradford might have hyperextended the knee and was “very optimistic.” Bradford walked off the field, and then walked to the locker room after the injury.
Wide receiver Brian Quick said he was assured by the quarterback that he was “OK.”
“It is a tremendous loss for them,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We knew that it didn’t look like much when it happened, but I just think it was a good amount of weight that got put on it. It’s such an unfortunate thing.”
Pettine said there “certainly wasn’t any intent” by Bryant to hurt Bradford.
Bradford had 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions last season. The Rams then upgraded their offensive line by drafting guard-tackle Greg Robinson No. 2 overall.
Bradford played in two preseason games and was 4 for 9 for 77 yards against the Browns.
The 34-year-old Hill has thrown only 16 passes the past three seasons as the backup in Detroit. He made 10 starts in 2010 for the Lions in place of injured Matthew Stafford and beat the Rams for Detroit’s first win after a 0-4 start.
“He makes good decisions, he’s mobile and just understands defense,” Fisher said. “He’s very reliable.”
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