PHILADELPHIA — Searching for a No. 2 cornerback has been a chore for the Philadelphia Eagles in recent years, typically a position of weakness even when the franchise has a strong defense. Signing James Bradberry was vital for the organization, bringing in a Pro Bowl talent to pair with Darius Slay (arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the game).
The Eagles want to have an elite defense, so they brought in the personnel this offseason to have a realistic shot at that goal. Bradberry came into the NovaCare Complex with high regards, and the former Pro Bowler hasn’t disappointed through three camp practices.
“You hear a lot about James outside in and when you get him. James is a very intelligent football player,” Eagles defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson said. “He’s a fast processor. He’s another guy that wants to be the best he can be. Those guys love to be pushed.
“He goes out there and competes his butt off. The sky’s the limit for him, as long as he does all the little things right and everything comes together.”
Bradberry had a strong Saturday practice, showcasing the ability to be a shutdown corner similar to his days with the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants (pre-2021). The Eagles cornerback covered both DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, making sure Jalen Hurts couldn’t find his go-to targets easily. Bradberry’s best play was a pass breakup on Brown on a downfield throw, an encouraging sign against a receiver who’s physically imposing at the line of scrimmage.
That’s not a coincidence.
“In this defense, he’s talking to our safeties like ‘I’ll be here’ or ‘If I’m here, I got you here,'” Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox said. “I don’t really have to talk to him as much, because he already kind of understands it. That’s a good thing when you have people that understand the defense already. He brings a lot.”
Bradberry had a successful two-year stint with the Giants, finishing with 35 pass breakups with the team — trailing only J.C. Jackson for the most in the NFL. He also finished with seven interceptions and allowed just a 66.6 passer rating when opposing quarterbacks targeted him. The Giants released Bradberry as a result of clearing up cap space, justifying the move after Bradberry allowed eight touchdown passes and a 75.8 passer rating in coverage as the primary defender.
Bradberry found a home in Philadelphia soon after, looking to prove he’s still one of the game’s top cornerbacks. He has 82 passes defended in his career and has led his team in all six of his NFL seasons. Bradberry and Darius Slay are the only cornerbacks with 80 passes defended since Bradberry’s rookie season (2016).
Learning a new defense can be tedious, but Bradberry is ahead of the curve. No wonder he’s had a strong first week of practice.
“It’s going pretty smooth,” Bradberry said. “We’re back there talking well. As long as we communicate and get on the same page, it usually goes pretty smooth.”