CHARLOTTE – Who knew someone could be destructive and even-tempered at the same time on the football field?
Head coach Ron Rivera says it is possible, and he's found it in rookie cornerback James Bradberry.
"He's a physical, aggressive young man," Rivera said Monday evening when he and Bradberry took part in the first Panther Talk of the regular season. "He plays very well with his hands, and he uses his arms very nicely. He tackles, which is one thing we love to get out of our corners because if a corner is a good tackler, that's a huge plus for your defense."
Bradberry recorded 128 stops over his four-year career at Samford University, leading to three All-Southern Conference selections before the Panthers picked him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He's already made a good impression as a pro, recording six tackles in his first game – second most on the team.
"He has the right mental makeup," Rivera said. "If something crazy happens, he's on to the next thing. He doesn't let it beat him down."
Bradberry tries his hardest to maintain his even-keel demeanor on the football field, regardless of the situation.
"If I get too excited out there," Bradberry said, "I have too much anxiety built up and then I start overcompensating and making plays that aren't there."
That attitude even extends to his attitude between plays, including interacting with opposing wide receivers.
"If he talks a lot, I might say something back," Bradberry said. "I'm not going to just let somebody talk to me all day. I'm going to say something back eventually. But normally, I don't say anything."
"He's a bright young man," Rivera continued. "He's inquisitive, he's always trying to learn and get better as a football player. He takes coaching very well. That's another huge plus. If you get a young guy that's playing and trying to do the things you're talking about, you know he's got a chance to be successful."
Bradberry has just the team to learn from: not only Rivera, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, secondary coach Steve Wilks or any other member of the staff, but also experienced teammates only a locker or two away.
"The guy that's been the most help to me has been Robert McClain," Bradberry said. "He's a veteran. He's given me tips on how to watch film and what certain receivers want to do. He also takes great notes, so he's been very helpful to me."
One of the things Rivera was disappointed in during the Denver game was the run defense allowing the Broncos 148 yards. Under the tutelage of McClain and others, the rookie corner already knows how he's going to help the secondary improve.
"If he's running towards me, I've got to beat the block – the receiver that's in front of me – and actually make the play on the run because the safety's too far back to come up and get the tackle," Bradberry explained.
Like Rivera said: "He takes coaching well."
View the top photos from Carolina's loss at Denver by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez.