CLEVELAND — Sam Bradford’s left knee failed him again. The Rams are once more a little shaky.
Bradford reinjured the knee he had surgery on last season and St. Louis had four other starters hurt in a 33-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night.
Bradford went down on his own after being hit by Browns defensive lineman Armonty Bryant in the first quarter. The Rams starting quarterback grabbed his knee and winced in pain before walking gingerly to the sideline with Rams coach Jeff Fisher watching every delicate step.
He was examined on the bench and then escorted to the locker room for further medical tests.
Following the game, Fisher thought Bradford hyperextended his knee, but will wait for more tests on Sunday.
“I’m very optimistic for his quick return,” said Fisher, who didn’t provide many details of the injury.
Fisher said he spoke with Bradford, who was not available for interviews.
“He’s fine. He’s upbeat,” Fisher said. “We’ll see.”
Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer threw a touchdown pass and celebrated rookie backup Johnny Manziel had a 7-yard TD run. Manziel was also sacked twice by Rams rookie Michael Sam, who punctuated the first takedown by mimicking Manziel’s “money” sign.
“If you’re going to sack Johnny, you’ve got to do that once,” Sam said with a smile.
The Rams are holding out hope Bradford’s injury isn’t serious.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed nine games last season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and having surgery, and St. Louis was counting on him to bounce back and have a big year.
Third-string St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter. The second was a short strike to wide receiver Chris Givens, who broke Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert’s tackle and went 75 yards to make it 20-0.
Bradford’s injury wasn’t the only one sustained on a rough night for the Rams. The most serious appeared to be to cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who was carted off with a towel draped over his head in the second quarter. Johnson and tackle Michael Brockers were injured on the same play, but Brockers walked off under his own power.
Earlier, defensive tackle Kendall Langford and offensive guard Rodger Saffold sustained ankle injuries.
“It was difficult for our team there to have those things happen,” Fisher said. “I don’t want the injuries to be the focus of this game. It’s the third preseason game and we set our sights high and accomplished what we wanted to accomplish tonight.”
The Rams racked up 472 yards on offense, recorded four sacks and kicker Greg Zuerlein had four field goals.
Fisher took a cautious approach with the 26-year-old Bradford in training camp and delayed the QB’s exhibition debut until last week against Green Bay. Bradford played well, completing 9 of 12 passes for 101 yards, and Fisher had hoped to give him more time against the Browns.
But he didn’t get past the Rams’ opening possession. After driving St. Louis to the Cleveland 12, Bradford, who wears a brace on his knee, dropped back and was hit high by Bryant as he threw an incompletion. Bryant didn’t wrap his arms around Bradford, who turned and fell.
“It appeared to be just a hyperextension of the same knee,” Fisher said. “We’ll get you the information.”
The Browns have their own issues at quarterback.
Coach Mike Pettine picked Hoyer this week over Manziel, the super-hyped first-round pick who didn’t do enough in training camp to win the starting job. Manziel did provide some excitement in the second half, bursting from the pocket and diving into the end zone before celebrating his first rushing TD in his home debut with his trademark finger-rubbing gesture.
“It was a great first experience in the stadium,” Manziel said. “To get a touchdown was incredible.”
Hoyer finished 10 of 16 for 84 yards with one touchdown.
Manziel went 10 of 15 for 85 yards. In the fourth quarter, he was blindsided by Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player who is fighting to make the Rams’ roster.
“I thought I played great in the fourth quarter,” Sam said. “I think I got better today, which is very important. You have to do with the plays you have that you make sure you perform and I thought I came up big.”