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Sam Bradford, Matt Hasselbeck, And Week 17

It's been some time since the St. Louis Rams had a quarterback who could come out on the right side of a debate about durability. Marc Bulger was a zombie, near the end, shambling around in the pocket behind an offensive line that wasn't about to protect him, even out of Mike Martz's high-danger offense. Kurt Warner was old and fragile seemingly from the moment he took a snap and became the best quarterback in football. Even Sam Bradford was supposed to make us worry—having shoulder problems in college wasn't a good sign. But with Matt Hasselbeck in doubt for Week 17 Sam Bradford has been named the "Rams' rock" at quarterback. It's good to be young.

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But it can't be underestimated how instrumental to Bradford's success his ability to be durable has been—where so many young quarterbacks are crushed by an inexperienced offensive line Bradford has been saved from serious damage by a relatively solid o-line, the defender-attracting exploits of Steven Jackson, who has been crushed this year, and his own mobility. Bradford's 31 sacks are just 10th in the NFL—not bad for a rookie who's taken every snap this season. Bulger was sacked more in each of his five full seasons as the starter; Matt Hasselbeck, who at 35 is, like Danny Glover, too old for this, has 29 in 14 games this season. 

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And while Bradford on a rate basis hasn't been as effective as some other star rookie quarterbacks to which he's been compared, that durability has kept the Rams from having to test A.J. Feeley, Charlie Whitehurst, or America's Next Top Keith Null. And there's value in that.

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