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Carolina Panthers

Bradberry and Jackson aim to reach the next level in 2019

Jackson and Bradberry chat on the field

CHARLOTTE – Cornerbacks James Bradberry and Donte Jackson both walked away from 2018 feeling the same way about their individual performances.

Inconsistent. Left some plays out there.

"You want to take it to the next level," Jackson said.

The good thing is both Bradberry and Jackson appear fully capable of developing into a top tandem.

Bradberry, a second-round pick from Samford in 2016, was drafted to help Carolina limit the explosive, big-bodied No. 1 receivers in the NFC South.

With his physicality and long arms, Bradberry was outstanding against the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Michael Thomas.

Jones vs. Panthers in 2018: 9 catches for 92 yards and 0 TDs in two games

Evans vs. Panthers in 2018: 5 catches for 64 yards and 0 TDs in two games

Thomas vs. Panthers in 2018: 12 catches for 78 yards and 0 TDs in two games

It was the other games in the heart of the season where Bradberry encountered some struggles.

"The middle of the season was kind of inconsistent," Bradberry said, echoing head coach Ron Rivera's assessment. "I was going downhill, but I picked it up toward the end and finished well.

"I've been playing against those guys (in the division) for three years now, so I know what to expect going against them. I just have to bring that same level of focus against those teams I don't consistently play."

Consistency is the mark of any great player, and that's what Bradberry will work toward entering his fourth season, also known as the final year of his rookie contract.

He knows value at the cornerback position is often tied to interceptions. Bradberry had just one pick in 2018 after recording two in each of his first two years, but he did finish with 15 passes defensed – the fifth highest total in the league this past season.

It was Jackson, the blazing fast second-round pick from LSU, who led the team with four interceptions as a rookie, a notable accomplishment any way you slice it. But Jackson's season included plenty of ups and downs and some mistakes proved very costly.

That's usually how things go for rookies. The plan is to learn from those mistakes and come back more polished and prepared in 2019.

"I'm looking forward to the future. Me and JB, we got a lot of things done," Jackson said. "We have the lookings of being one of the top duos in this league if we play our cards right and we keep working. I don't see nothing less for us."