Waiting to return painful for Bradley
At University of Hawai'i spring football practices, receiver Rodney Bradley can sometimes be seen pounding two gray-gloved fists together in the manner of a boxer relishing the coming of the next round.
But for Bradley it is wishful thinking at the moment. The next real, full-on action for him is still months away.
These days Bradley is more the keen, close-up observer than regular hands-on participant while in the sixth month of recovering from a broken left leg.
"I'm itchin' to go, to get out there and do some more," Bradley said. But, glancing down at his left leg, he acknowledges, "I know I can't ... yet. I have to be patient."
In some ways the practice of patience might be almost as painful as the injury that resulted in him being taken by ambulance from the Kibbie Dome turf for surgery in a Moscow, Idaho hospital. "I want to jump in (on drills) out there, that's second nature. But I can't."
Not if he wants to keep his recovery on schedule and be ready for the opening of the Warriors' fall camp in August. "I'm about 85 percent now but it is gonna take a while to get back to 100 percent and getting the leg in condition again," Bradley said.
Before a Vandal safety cut him down in the second quarter of the Oct. 17 game, helping to crumple the Warriors' bowl hopes for the season with him, Bradley was making the leap from junior college to Division I look remarkably smooth. Sort of like his 73-yard catch and after-burners run against Washington State at Qwest Field In Seattle.
He was a premium breakaway threat from the outside, someone whose acceleration regularly turned 8-yard catches into 20- and 30-yard gains last season. At the time, Bradley was averaging 18.55 yards per catch — putting him third in the nation in the category. He was averaging six catches a game and many of them were of the highlight reel variety. And, if you can believe it, he was just starting to get the hang of the Warriors' offense.
Then came the season-ending injury that head coach Greg McMackin called "devastating."
"I've seen the hit (on video) a couple of times," Bradley said. "The guy was trying to make a play and bring me down. I don't think he was deliberately trying to hurt me or break my leg. It was just that I had made a move and he tried to get me down."
But keeping him down has proved to be more difficult. "I'm determined to stay positive," Bradley said. "Everything happens for a reason and I'm going to keep going. I'm going to be back."
Pounding his hands, ready to play, no doubt.