Sam Bradford waited 364 days to play 235 seconds. One series covering 12 plays, and the quarterback's preseason debut with the Eagles on Saturday night was over. It was more of a pop quiz than an endurance test for the twice surgically repaired left knee that limited Bradford to seven games during his final two seasons with the St. Louis Rams.
He was pleased to have passed it.
"I was excited. I was nervous. There were a lot of emotions," Bradford said after the Eagles' 40-17 preseason rout of the Baltimore Ravens. "I think most of all I was just excited. It was a great feeling."
Bradford's one action-packed series resulted in an 84-yard touchdown drive. He also survived a couple of vicious hits, including one he thought was a cheap shot at his knees by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.
"Yeah, I was a little upset," Bradford said. "Not sure I could probably repeat what I said to him. But like I said, it's part of the game. I'm sure that's not the last time something like that is going to happen this year. I took a few hits tonight, I got back up, and I feel good. It's one of those last hurdles and one of those boxes that needed to be checked, and I think it was tonight."
Eagles coach Chip Kelly said the second big hit on Bradford - a body blow by 335-pound Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams on an incomplete pass - bloodied the quarterback's lip.
"He did get a couple hits, but no worse for the wear, so a good step for him," Kelly said. "The plan was to get him between 10 and 15 snaps, and we had 14 called plays for him. I thought he looked good for the first time back out there."
It was Bradford's first game in a year. His last preseason game, Aug. 23, 2014, against Cleveland, resulted in the second torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 11 months and led to the trade that brought him to Philadelphia. He admitted this return has been "harder mentally," but coming through Saturday night with a sound body should do wonders for his mind.
The resounding ovation he received from the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field as he came out for his first and only series should have also boosted Bradford's confidence. These people want this guy to do well. The Eagles, of course, need him to do well.
"Hearing the crowd, getting back out there and playing football again, you know it has been a long time," Bradford said. "There has been a lot of work that has gone into it, and to get out there tonight and actually get to play again, it was just a lot of fun."
He may not have been in long, but Bradford's dozen plays were eventful. He had said Thursday that he "wouldn't hate going to the ground once, getting up, and knowing I'm going to be OK."
The hit by Suggs was not what he had in mind, but he got no sympathy or apology from the linebacker.
"If you want to run the read-option with your starting quarterback that's had two knee surgeries, that's on you," Suggs said. "I could have hit him harder. I eased up."
What impressed Bradford most was how the Eagles rallied around him. Though he did not look entirely comfortable in his return, the quarterback did connect on three of his five passes - including two that allowed the Eagles to convert third-down plays into first downs - for 35 yards.
He found running back Darren Sproles out of the slot on a third and 6 for his first completion of the evening, and just before a 14-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews, he converted on third and 5 with a 15-yard pass to Jordan Matthews. In between, he hit Josh Huff for 12 yards and a first down.
His one long throw sailed over Riley Cooper's head, but the play was nullified by a holding call on tackle Lane Johnson.
After Mathews' touchdown, Bradford returned to Kelly's preseason protection program.
It was a good start for the quarterback in what has been a great start to the preseason for the Eagles. We have to assume the extended preseason test for Bradford will take place Saturday, when the Eagles play the Packers in Green Bay. You have to think that Kelly wants to see the man who will hold the keys to his offense play at least a full half before the games start to count.
But even that exhibition will not give us a clear idea of what we can expect from the new quarterback. For those answers, we will have to get deep into the season, which is a place he has not been since 2012. More grueling and far more extended examinations lie ahead before we can draw any conclusions about Sam Bradford.