Carolina Panthers rookie cornerback James Bradberry got thrown into the mix immediately in his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos.
Much different from what he saw in the lead-up to Thursday’s road loss?
“Not really,” Bradberry said Monday. “It was the same speed we were going against in practice the preseason. It was just a different offense they were running.”
His takeaway from a first regular-season game?
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“Biggest thing I learned is to continue to be in your playbook, so your teammates can trust you to do your assignment,” Bradberry said.
Bradberry, who played at Samford, was selected in the second round of the NFL draft. He says the most important thing he’s learned since arriving in Charlotte is not to play hero: Fit in with teammates and don’t take unnecessary risks.
“Just naturally sometimes as a player you try to overcompensate (and) get away from what you’re supposed to be doing, which is just make plays,” Bradberry said. “As long as you do your job, you’ll benefit other players and allow them to make plays.”
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott sees Bradberry catching on fast, as he needs to in this situation.
“James had a good first outing, which is important for a rookie cornerback,” McDermott said.
“(It’s) consistency – down-in, down-out what we call playoff football. That’s the standard we’ve set and we expect to see it every play. We’ve got to continue to emphasize that. Players need to understand they’re one-eleventh of the defense and trust the man next to him to do (his) job.”
Bradberry had six tackles in Denver. With all the talk of dangerous head-to-head hits by the Broncos Thursday, Bradberry was asked how he balances aggression with precision.
“You just always try to stay level-headed and keep your anxiety down,” Bradberry said. “I just try to put myself in position to make a play, rather than make that bang-bang hit where I might get fined or get thrown out of a game. I always try to put myself in a position to play the ball.”