AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chris Weinke is looking forward to working with Sam Bradford.
Weinke, the former Florida State star, is the St. Louis Rams new quarterback coach.
Weinke and Bradford bonded for 3 1/2 hours over dinner during the NFL combine that was part of the interview process, with new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti also at the table.
Cignetti was Weinke’s quarterback coach in San Francisco in 2007, the last of Weinke’s seven NFL seasons.
Weinke’s bottom line about Bradford: “Love him, love him.”
“Great opportunity to sit down and have some quality time with Sam, and it was so comfortable from the get-go,” Weinke said. “Really, what we shared at that dinner was simply ‘Who are you, who am I?’ and can we work together?”
Bradford’s health and contract status raised no red flags.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2010 is entering the final year of the $80 million deal he signed out of Oklahoma and is coming off a second straight season-ending left knee injury.
Weinke said Bradford’s pro day was the best he witnessed “by far” in five years evaluating talent and coaching quarterback prospects.
What stood out most for Weinke is how effortless Bradford made it seem.
“He never looked like he was trying to muscle a throw, he never looked like anything was too hard for him,” Weinke said Thursday during a break on his first full day on the job. “He was able to make all of those throws with ease and great accuracy.”
Weinke believes coaching a fellow Heisman Trophy winner and serving under head coach Jeff Fisher is the perfect scenario for him to launch the next stage of his career with the eventual goal of becoming an NFL head coach.
Going back to Pop Warner days, Weinke said he’s kept every set of notes from every game plan he’s been a part of.
“I knew while I was still playing that when my playing days were over, I was going to coach,” he said. “Yes, yes, I would love to be a head coach.”
Fisher has said he’ll bring in another quarterback as insurance after the Rams went with veteran backup Shaun Hill as well as Austin Davis last season when Bradford was injured in the preseason.
A few years after retiring from the NFL, Weinke launched the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He helped college prospects prepare for the draft, worked with NFL quarterbacks in the offseason including Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Ryan Tannehill, and running a high school program.
In two years as a head coach, Weinke produced a 19-3 record with hand-picked talent. Last year’s team featured players from 19 states and seven countries and 22 of 29 seniors got Division I scholarships.
“The ultimate goal all along was hopefully to get an opportunity to coach at the next level, whether that was big-time college or the NFL,” Weinke said. “This opportunity was perfect for me.”
Weinke said he’s turned down opportunities the past few years and was dealing from strength because he loved the IMG job that he compared to a major college program.
“We’re able to recruit the country and our facilities are second to none, which was a lot of fun to be a part of,” Weinke said. “I designed all of that stuff.
“You understand why it was hard to walk away from it.”
NOTE: The Rams have released defensive tackle Kendall Langford, who lost his starting spot to rookie Aaron Donald last season.