Ex-Terp Bradford keeps faith as he tackles Redskins' challenge

July 22, 1991|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Evening Sun Staff

There are those who believe that two-a-day practices at NFL training camps in the dead heat of July are the last places to find spirituality.

But Jack Bradford, the former Wilde Lake two-sport star who is now trying to latch on to a linebacking spot with the Washington Redskins in Carlisle, Pa., is approaching training camp with a calm assurance that there is something else to his life than football.

"The Lord's going to put me where he wants me to be," said Bradford, an All-Metro linebacker/fullback and high jumper, long jumper and triple jumper for the Wilde Lake track team before moving on to the University of Maryland. "If it's not here, then I'll be home working with my father in his construction company.

"I just have this feeling that I'm supposed to be here. I had a chance to go to Chicago or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, but I decided to come here. I think there's someone looking down on me, keeping me here."

Bradford, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound native of Columbia, was invited to camp by the Redskins after he went through April's college draft unselected, which is a little surprising when one considers his Terps career.

Bradford finished with 211 tackles, including 81 his senior season, good for 13th in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He led the conference in tackles for losses and was second in sacks with 10.

But Bradford was left unchosen, perhaps, in part, because the ACC isn't perceived as a conference where passing and, thus, pass coverage, is at a premium.

"Some conferences are geared that way, run over pass, and if that's the case, then a guy coming in would have to spend a little bit more time getting what he didn't get in college," said Larry Peccatiello, Redskins linebacker coach.

"If anything, Jack's strong suit is the passing game as opposed to the running game. I think he's a good enough athlete that he'll adjust to either one."

So far, the adjustment is going well, by Bradford's reckoning, though he must learn to play the 4-3 defensive scheme the Redskins employ, rather than Maryland's 3-4.

"You have to get rid of old habits and pick up new ones, taking on blocks and making drops," said Bradford. "You have to adjust on the run and understand why things are done the way they are."

In addition, Bradford is getting used to the notion of football as a way of life.

"I kind of felt like that at Maryland, but not like this," said Bradford. "Here, you're always thinking and sleeping and eating football. But it's good."

It will be even better if he can crack the Redskins' lineup, and Peccatiello says Bradford has a chance, if he works hard and develops.

But whatever happens, Bradford promises to keep it all in perspective.

"I'm not under pressure to make the team. I'm a long shot as it is," said Bradford. "The Redskins have always been my favorite team. It's a dream to play at home, but if I don't make the team, they'll still be my favorite team. I'm out here to learn the game and do the best I can."

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