ST. LOUIS – Sam Bradford took the field to a big ovation. Soon enough, reality sank in for the centerpiece of the St. Louis Rams' rebuilding effort.
The No. 1 overall pick had an early case of the jitters, short-arming a pitch and bobbling a snap the first two plays, looked poised while hitting four of his first five passes, then ended with an extended rough patch in the Minnesota Vikings' 28-7 preseason-opening victory Saturday night.
Sage Rosenfels, chasing Tarvaris Jackson for the Vikings' quarterback job while Brett Favre waffles on his future, was a standout even though both starting wide receivers are out with injuries. Rosenfels threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter against the Rams' second-teamers and added a 71-yarder to Marko Mitchell in the third quarter, finishing 23 of 34 for 310 yards.
Jackson started but wasn't out there for long, taking six snaps on the opening series while going 2 of 4 for 11 yards.
Bradford completed only two of his last eight passes against Vikings second-teamers, finishing 6 of 13 for 57 yards while getting sacked four times. The Vikings gave the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner's surgically repaired right shoulder a battle test with Jayme Mitchell getting 1.5 sacks on consecutive plays in the second quarter.
Bradford's debut probably should be graded on a curve, given Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson did not take a snap and the Rams were the NFL's puniest offense even with Jackson while going 1-15 last season. Jackson and Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson both dressed but only watched.
One of the players most victimized by the Vikings was right tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick last year who's been bothered by a broken toe much of training camp.
St. Louis is 6-42 the last three seasons, a big reason the Edward Jones Dome was officially only two-thirds full with announced attendance of 40,801.
Bradford is the backup for now behind veteran A.J. Feeley. But Feeley was shaky, narrowly avoiding interceptions on two passes that could have been returned for touchdowns while going 3 of 6 for 19 yards.
Danny Amendola scored on a 93-yard punt return for the Rams, but fumbled away his next chance at the Rams 16 that led to Rosenfels' 2-yard touchdown pass to Logan Payne five plays later to tie it at 7. Garrett Mills whipped linebacker Chris Chamberlain on a 65-yarder the next series to put the Vikings ahead.
Six Vikings offensive players did not play. Percy Harvin has missed all but two days of training camp due to migraine headaches and a funeral, and Sidney Rice has a hip injury.
Mills had four catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, Payne had seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown and Mickey Shuler added a 2-yard grab from Joe Webb.