Jump to content

What Bradberry is learning playing in the slot


Recommended Posts

What Bradberry is learning playing in the slot

The outside corner is getting some reps inside during training camp

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published August 21, 2023


New Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai has promised since he got here that he’s going to try guys in different combinations, at different positions, in different roles, in different sub-packages.

If you’re an edge rusher? He'll line you up inside. If you’re a safety? You just might be taking snaps at linebacker. If you’re a corner? You could wind up at safety when you least expect it.

Desai wants to see all his guys in every imaginable scenario to make for the best possible evaluation heading into the regular season. 

Which brings us to James Bradberry, one of the NFL’s best outside cornerbacks during his seven-year career.

Bradberry - a 2nd-team all-pro last year - has played 7,055 snaps on defense since the Panthers drafted him in the second round in 2016. According to Pro Football Focus, just 237 of those snaps – about 3 percent – have been in the slot.

Last year, his first with the Eagles, Bradberry played 1,078 snaps and just 10 were in the slot – less than 1 percent.

So where has Bradberry spent a good portion of the last couple weeks at training camp?

In the slot.

Does it mean he’s going to replace Avonte Maddox as the Eagles’ primary inside cornerback?


Does it mean you might see Bradberry inside against teams with big, physical tight ends that the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Maddox might not match up with?

Sure does. 

"I think I'm just adding to my overall knowledge of the game,” Bradberry said after practice Sunday. "The more you do, the more valuable you become. I feel like I'm getting adjusted to it.

"I've taken reps there before as in like in practice just to play around. Maybe when I was in Carolina and stuff. And then in New York (with the Giants in 2021) they had a package where the corners would travel over and play (inside) a little, play some zones and stuff on the inside portion. So I have a little experience with it. Just small.”

At 6-1, 215 pounds, Bradberry is a big, tough, physical corner who has the ability to match up against bigger receivers and presumably tight ends or backs.

What’s allowed Desai to experiment with Bradberry inside is the improvement we’ve seen from second-year corner Josh Jobe, who has been playing outside opposite Darius Slay when Bradberry is inside.

"We're just trying to find different matchups, different roles,” Desai said. "It's about getting the best 11 on the field in different ways. 

"Why not? We had some rep management things we were doing with some guys. He was not on that list. Why not test him out in there and put him in some situations?”

Bradberry said working in the slot has given him a new way to look at the defense, which he thinks will help him when he’s playing outside as well.

"For sure, you see it at a different angle,” he said. "I'm used to seeing it on the outside of the formation. Now playing some nickel. I'm having to get adjusted to seeing routes develop behind me. So I'm understanding how offenses set up schemes when they try to run somebody in front of you just so they can get you to say, bite the cheese and then throw it behind you with the layers and stuff. So just overall seeing a different outlook on it.”

It’s worth noting that Zech McPhearson had been the primary backup slot for most of training camp. He’s now out for the year with a torn Achilles, but Bradberry was getting inside reps before McPhearson got hurt in the Browns preseason game Thursday night at the Linc.

Is this just Desai looking at Bradberry in a new role or will he really be playing a healthy dose of slot once the regular season begins?

On our last Eagle Eye podcast after practice Sunday, Dave Zangaro observed that Bradberry wouldn’t be playing this much slot – a significant number of reps virtually every day – if Desai wasn’t serious about using him during the season.

It seems like more than just dabbling.

"I don't know, we'll see,” Bradberry said. "Hopefully, I can continue to get better at it. And if the coaches see fit for a game plan, you know, he might throw me in there. But it's all up to the coach's discretion.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really hope this isn’t a false Dawn. We saw Schwartz not adjust and not do a lot of creative play calling and scheming. We were told Gannon was highly regarded but that was all a bit of a let down really. So let’s hope Desai is going to be creative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...