LOS ANGELES -- Sam Bradford had a spectacular showing for the St. Louis Rams last week, displaying dazzling accuracy and throwing for two touchdowns in an exhibition victory over New England.
Yes, it's only the preseason, but it gave the beleaguered fans in St. Louis something to savor. That said, a lot is expected of the No. 1 pick who received a record $50 million in guarantees.
Here are 10 lower-profile players who have made the most of their training camps:
QB, NEW ORLEANS
Battling with Patrick Ramsey for the Saints' backup job, Daniel has done a very smart thing: He has hitched himself to Drew Brees, spending as much time as possible around the Saints star and even likening him to a big brother. Daniel and Brees are quite similar, undersized scrappers from Texas who have spent much of their careers determined to disprove critics. Beating Ramsey is no layup, though. After Daniel threw for three touchdowns against Houston in the second exhibition game, Ramsey got all the backup snaps against San Diego in a solid performance.
The Raiders have been searching for a reliable strong-side linebacker for years. With the way Wimbley has looked in the preseason, the club might be able to breathe easy for a while. Oakland gave Cleveland a third-round pick for Wimbley, who had four sacks in the first half of an exhibition game against Chicago, shades of his rookie year, when he had 11. He looks like a solid addition to a team that has overhauled its linebackers.
Armstrong, who has caught most everything Donovan McNabb has thrown his way, might be an instant star in Washington, but he took the long road to get there. The speedy, 5-foot-11 receiver went from West Texas A&M, to something called the Intense Football League, to the Arena Football League, to the 2008 Miami practice squad. The Dolphins waived him twice in a one-year period before the Redskins picked him up last season and had him on their practice squad for their last 11 games.
C, SAN FRANCISCO
Not only do the 49ers have two rookie first-round picks starting on their offensive line -- tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati -- but they have converted guard Baas starting at a position he hasn't played since college. He stepped in when longtime center Eric Heitmann went down because of a broken leg in practice this month, and with Baas' snaps and blocking it's so far, so good.
Although Arizona still can't seem to figure out what it's doing at quarterback, the Cardinals have to be excited by what they've seen from Williams, a 6-foot-5 undrafted rookie from Toledo. Assuming the Cardinals carry six receivers, the surprisingly fast Williams is in good position to grab one of the three spots behind Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.
RB, NEW YORK JETS
The rookie fullback is an explosive blocker and repeatedly has shown why he's nicknamed "Terminator," a reference to the fictional "John Connor" in Hollywood's "Terminator" franchise. Coach Rex Ryan loves him and constantly raves about him on HBO's reality series "Hard Knocks." By all indications, the team will keep Conner and seasoned fullback Tony Richardson.
WR, NEW YORK GIANTS
Like Conner, Cruz has "Hard Knocks" to thank for his instant stardom. HBO cameras captured the free-agent rookie from Massachusetts catching three touchdown passes in a game against the Jets, and afterward Ryan raved about him. It has been three years since a Giants receiver had a similar hat trick, that coming when Plaxico Burress caught three touchdown passes in a loss to Dallas.
The Ravens love what they're seeing from Dickson, a third-round selection who was in a spread offense at Oregon and knows how to get up the middle seams. There has been a lot of wear and tear on Todd Heap, 30, who last season was on the field for more than 1,000 snaps (only Dallas' Jason Witten and Indianapolis' Dallas Clark had more.) Baltimore will keep Dickson and fourth-round tight end Dennis Pitta.
Toeaina has a wider body than most defensive tackles who thrive in Rod Marinelli's system, but he can penetrate and play the run. A sixth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2007 who was signed to Chicago's practice squad that December, Toeaina appeared in only five games the last three seasons. Now, though, he probably has played his way into the defensive tackle rotation behind starters Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams.
OT, SAN DIEGO
The holdout of Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill was a real jolt to the Chargers, but so far the emergence of Dombrowski has taken the sting out of that situation. Dombrowski, who logged time at right guard and right tackle last season, has done a respectable job of protecting Philip Rivers' blind side. Now, if the Chargers could find an equally capable replacement for receiver Vincent Jackson ...