Daryl Worley exceeding expectations

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CHARLOTTE – Cornerback Daryl Worley is happy with the steady progress he's made throughout his rookie season and feels he's right where he needs to be in his development.

His head coach doesn't entirely agree, but in this case, that's not a bad thing.

"He's got the skill set, but sometimes you look at a guy and think, 'He might take a little longer,' " Rivera said. "But heck, I was wrong. He's done a nice job for us."

Rivera said Worley has been a pleasant surprise in terms of how quickly he's turned into a viable starter. The Panthers selected cornerback James Bradberry in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and then traded up to take Worley in the third round.

"I didn't know if he was the same type of player as James in terms of his development or his ability to develop, but he's taken to it very, very nicely," Rivera said. "Daryl, he has surprised us. He's done some really good things. I kind of thought he would be a part-time guy that would get some opportunities, but with some of the things that we've done, we put him out there on the field and he's really grown. He has taken to it.

"Both of those young guys have done the things we've hoped for."

Worley and Bradberry are slated to start together for the eighth time in the last nine games when the Panthers wrap up their season Sunday at Tampa Bay. Bradberry and Bene Benwikere started the first four games together before Benwikere was waived. Robert McClain, also no longer with the team, started alongside Bradberry in Week 13 at Seattle, though Worley played more snaps.

Worley ranks fourth on the team with 76 tackles and is second to Bradberry with eight passes defensed. Bradberry has 54 tackles and nine passes defensed. Each has one interception.

"You believe the future is going to be bright," Rivera said. "The thing they've got to do is continue to be committed and continue to develop their craft."

View photos of the Panthers as they prepare for their game against Tampa Bay.

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