Eagles fans will have to wait six more days to see Sam Bradford make his preseason debut.
Just before the start of Friday's training session, Chip Kelly announced that Bradford will not play in Sunday's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, naming Mark Sanchez as the team's starting quarterback for the game.
Kelly was quick to point out that the decision had nothing to do with Bradford's surgically repaired left knee, but that it was simply the head coach's call to give the quarterback some more practice time.
"It's just that he's only been out here for two weeks (doing full-team drills)," Kelly explained. "The other guys have a little bit more of a base and I just feel more comfortable putting him in for the Ravens game.
"He's been out here for two weeks and he's done a really nice job. He'll get his first work with the Ravens when we train with them for a couple of days and then he'll play in the Ravens game."
Health-wise, Bradford is ready to go, but Kelly believes the extra training sessions against the Baltimore Ravens next week will help Bradford be fully prepared for the game next Saturday.
"I think he can go," Kelly said. "I know he's disappointed but it's just my call ... There's a fine line in preseason games. His first 11-on-11 was two weeks ago and now to go up against another team, it was just my decision, and we've been back and forth about it, but I made the final call that we're going to sit him this game and he'll play against the Ravens.
"Sam understands. He's disappointed, but I think he understands. There wasn't a debate."
Bradford was certainly looking forward to taking the field on Sunday for his first time as an Eagle in game action. After months of questions about his knee, he's ready to prove himself. At the same time, he understands the call to wait one more week to give him some more reps and more time to fully dive into the Eagles' playbook.
"It's coach's decision," Bradford said. "Obviously, I wanted to be out there and I was preparing to be out there, but this morning (Coach Kelly) sat down and explained it to me. It's up to him, but I'll be ready to roll and get out and play next week against the Ravens."
It's only natural for Bradford to be somewhat disappointed about not being able to get out there right away with the rest of his teammates. He was at the NovaCare Complex for the entire six-week period between OTAs and Training Camp, putting in the extra hours to have his knee ready to go.
"I think any time that you put the time in and come into Training Camp and work for two weeks, it's always fun to get out there and play real football again," Bradford said. "I think it is a little disappointing but I'm excited about the opportunity next week. I can't wait to get out there and play against the Ravens."
Bradford also pointed out that even if he was going to get in to Sunday's game, it would only be for a short period of time anyway. Starters typically play only one or two drives in the preseason opener, so sitting out on Sunday won't be a big setback in the quarterback's learning process.
"I think there's a fine balance," Bradford said. "I think the big thing is that if I did play this Saturday, it was only going to be six or eight plays. It wasn't like I was going to play four quarters and I'm missing out on 75 reps in there. You're disappointed not to be out there and playing, but I think there's still plenty of time in the preseason for me to get the work in that I need to get done."
When Bradford does take the field next week against Baltimore, it will be exactly 355 days since the last time he played in an NFL game. He's been thinking of his first game back for quite some time now, but after what has basically been a full calendar year away from football, Bradford is okay with waiting another week.
"Obviously, I'd like to be out there Sunday and get it out of the way," Bradford said. "The good thing is that we get to get out there and practice against (the Ravens), so hopefully that will take some of the uneasiness out of the way so that when we step on the field next week, we'll be ready to go."