By Annie Ross

It’s fair to say that Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford has no bigger fan than Birds’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who held that position for the St. Louis Rams when Bradford was a rookie in 2010.

Bradford’s steady improvement is nothing new to Shurmur, who coached Bradford when the Rams drafted the Heisman Trophy winner with the No. 1 overall pick.

“I think his overall play has improved every week,” Shurmur said today. “I certainly expected it. I’m starting to see the things in him that I remember seeing when he was a rookie. It takes awhile to come back from what he went through. He’s getting more and more used to the way we’re doing things. Certainly it was easy to connect the dots when he first got here. He’s very well aware of what we do offensively, but it just takes a little bit of time.”

“Much like an offensive line getting used to playing together and the quarterback with everything he has on his plate, along with everything he was going through to be physically ready to handle it all … It just kind of takes a little time. We didn’t know what to expect as we moved along. Certainly, expectations are high whenever you’re talking about an NFL football team and an NFL football player. We just saw him getting better each day and I think it’s showing on Sundays.

“He’s got outstanding accuracy,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s his number one attribute. He understands the game extremely well. He’s extremely smart. You can see, throwing the football is a total-body motion and you need your whole body to do it. He’s getting more and more comfortable with being back, you can see the ball going exactly where he wants it. There were only a couple of throws the other night that didn’t go just where he wanted it. There were some really well-thrown footballs. He’s having more and more well-thrown balls and less and less that kind of miss the target. That’s how we evaluate how he’s improving.

“I know he’s a very courageous guy. He’s probably saying more the more that he’s playing and getting comfortable with the surroundings. He displays leadership every single day, in my mind. I think the vocal part of it is important and it gets talked about more than the non-verbal stuff that you see on a day-to-day basis and I think that’s starting to come more and more.”

As the season has gone along, Bradford has begun to embrace the role as vocal leader. Prior to Sunday’s game Bradford delivered a rousing pre-game speech for the third time this season.

Bradford has passed for has passed for 2,664 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season after a two-year layoff while recovering from a twice-torn ACL.

“There’s a difference between being healthy enough to play, which we all become,” Shurmur explained. “Then after you play awhile you get more and more comfortable with it. A lot of guys will say ‘hey, in my second year back [from an ACL injury] I feel a lot better from it.’ I think that’s fair. The further you get away from the actual injury, surgery and rehab, you become more and more comfortable.

“I watch him compete on a day-to-day basis. I watch him train. I watch him in the meetings. It’s safe to say I have a lot of very strong feelings about what he can be as a player because I’ve seen it when he was rookie of the year and I’m starting to see it, here.”

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