Last year at this time, the Sam Bradford who reported for Eagles Training Camp was a much different player than the quarterback who stepped on the field Monday at the NovaCare Complex. The 2015 Bradford was still rehabbing his knee, adjusting to life in Philadelphia and working to build a foundation with his new teammates.
Now, his main focus is picking up where he left off at the end of his first season as an Eagle, playing strong and being a leader for this football team. He's built chemistry with the players around him and he understands the expectations that come along with playing football in Philadelphia.
As Training Camp 2016 opened Monday morning, Bradford and the Eagles who reported looked to come out strong as they began laying the groundwork for the year ahead.
"I think this is where we come together as a team," Bradford said. "I think the good teams are the ones that don't let the days become monotonous and aren't just trying to check off the boxes trying to get to the next day. I think if we can use this time to our advantage and really focus each day on getting better, I think by the time Cleveland comes around we'll be in a really good place."
Just as he did heading into last season's camp, Bradford spent the offseason learning a new offense. During his career, Bradford has been through his fair share of system changes and knows getting this one into place will require a lot of focus and effort.
"I think each process is different, each offense is different," Bradford said. "Obviously it takes reps, it takes time. Practice is great, obviously. You can learn a lot in practice but until you get out there in games, it's really hard to simulate the whole communication and speed and everything that happens in a game."
Head coach Doug Pederson's scheme is one that will put more on Bradford's plate on gamedays, a responsibility the quarterback happily welcomes.
Bradford will be able to audible at the line of scrimmage and huddle up with his teammates before plays this season, two things that were challenging to do in the previous up-tempo offense. He'll have the ability to really take control of the offense, which will in turn demand solid communication among the players. And, while Bradford is a quieter leader than some, he is confident in his ability to help this team move forward and improve.
"I just try to be myself. I don't try to be anything other than that. I just try to go out there, lead by example," Bradford explained. "I don't say a whole lot except when I feel it's needed. I think all the guys will tell you I work hard, I do my job and hopefully the guys respond to that and follow that."
The seven-year veteran specifically knows he and center Jason Kelce need to ensure they're always on the same page moving forward, which is one of Bradford's top Training Camp priorities. With longer play calls, quarterback/center communication will be key to the team's success.
"I think me and Kelce have a lot to do this year," Bradford said. "I think the quicker we can get on the same page, the quicker we can start speaking the same language out there, the better we're going to be as an offense because we're the two directing it out there. I would say just really dialing in our protections and our calls at the line of scrimmage."
With Day One officially in the books, Bradford and his teammates are just getting started. The remainder of Eagles veterans will report on Wednesday and their preparations for this 2016 season will continue from there.