Former University of Toledo star quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers May 30, was claimed off NFL waivers Thursday by the St. Louis Rams just before the free agent deadline.
Gradkowski is expected to compete with quarterbacks Trent Green and Brock Berlin for a backup position behind Marc Bulger.
"I'm excited to get there for a fresh start," Gradkowski said. "I'm looking forward to working with Bulger, and the team has a good coaching staff as well. This is definitely a good team to go to and be a part of. They have a lot of weapons. ... I just want to get there and start working hard and help the team anyway that I can."
The Bucs organization did him a favor by releasing him early to catch on with another team. Gradkowski will report to St. Louis tomorrow for the team's last week of organized team activities.
"I just want to go in there controlling what I can control and that is working hard, getting the offense down and competing. Whatever that may be, the third guy, second guy, whatever it is," Gradkowski said.
Gradkowski is best known for his passing skills and work ethic. He set 19 school records in his three years as a starter at UT, including most yards (9,225), most touchdowns (85) and highest completion percentage (68.4), and was 26-10 as a starter.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden often praised the quarterback's study habits publicly saying he couldn't keep the quarterback out of the film room.
Gradkowski said it wasn't unusual for him to spend 12-hour days at the Bucs center working on honing his passing skills and studying film.
Gradkowski was a sixth-round draft choice of the Bucs in the 2006 NFL Draft and became the odd man out in Tampa with numerous quarterbacks - Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Chris Simms, and 2008 fifth-round draft pick Josh Johnson - at the team's disposal. Not to mention Jake Plummer, who is under contract but has said he is retired.
The quarterback said he is hoping his hard work will pay off with St. Louis.
Gradkowski is a perfect fit for the Rams offense. He's an accurate passer, athletic, and makes good decisions. He has better arm strength than he is given credit for and at 6-1, 220-pounds he is strong. Ironically, Gradkowski drew comparisons to Bulger coming out of Toledo.