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James Bradberry: 'The goal is to be great together'

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

They are in the early stages here, feeling out what the players can do and staying open-minded with the X's and O's of the defense, so neither new Eagles cornerback James Bradberry nor Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon is making any predictions or looking ahead. Just believe that Bradberry is glad to be in Philadelphia and that Gannon is "excited" that Bradberry is here and the daily work is in progress.

An offseason of progress is measured in part by a slew of additions made to the defense – including linebackers Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, Nakobe Dean, and Kyron Johnson, defensive tackle Jordan Davis, and now Bradberry. A Pro Bowl cornerback with the Giants in 2020 and a starter since the moment Carolina selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Bradberry has had two days under his belt learning Gannon's scheme and, well, let's just say the early results are promising.

"He wants the best for the players, and he's willing to make changes based on the needs and wants of the players, so that's already the positive feedback I get from him," Bradberry said of Gannon on Tuesday as the veteran defensive back was introduced to the Philadelphia media at the NovaCare Complex. "I like to play the defense. It offers multiple looks – you can play zone and man. I make a lot of plays in both, so that's the reason I like the scheme. The team that they are building here and playing in front of these fans, I played in front of these fans a few times when I was in Carolina and when I was in New York, and they're pretty rowdy. I thought it would be pretty fun."

The Eagles feel the very same. They envision teaming Bradberry with another Pro Bowl cornerback, Big Play Slay, in the defensive secondary, with Avonte Maddox in the nickel position and another group of younger corners pushing for playing time. In his second season here, Gannon is learning every day how his new players fit into what he wants to do – which is to be multiple, versatile, and have specific schemes each week to slow down an offense's best way to attack.

Having Bradberry on board, Gannon said on Tuesday, will help a lot.

"Very versatile player – smart, tough, physical, can get the ball, can cover, so anytime you have that type of skill set with your outside corners, it's a good asset to have," Gannon said. "He allows us to play certain things predicated on what we're trying to stop that week, as Slay does, as all those guys do. That's why you look for complete players. Can they play off? Can they press? Can they play with vision? Can they play with 'man' eyes? So, there's all that. With that type of player, it gives you flexibility with some of the coverages that you can play – I like flexibility with coverages.

"One of the things I love about him is the high football intelligence. He's got a high football IQ and production and he can cover. That's what you want. You want people who can deny the football and he can do that."

Playing with Slay is something that genuinely has Bradberry jazzed but, again, no predictions.

Just hard work.

"I've been watching him since I've been in the league and I admire his game a lot and I feel that it would be a great opportunity to learn from him and also to play alongside him," Bradberry said. "The goal is to be great together."

That's the goal for the entire defense, one that was good enough last year to limit offenses to 18 points or fewer in 10 games and help the Eagles reach the postseason. Fitting in the new pieces and executing the scheme at a high level is the daily goal now as the Eagles continue through their offseason program.

"We're always looking to add really good football players that are versatile, and there are a lot of reasons behind that, one being scheme," Gannon said. "One being it's a matchup driven league, so we're looking to accentuate some of our matchups. It's always on gameday, there are so many jerseys, and you like guys to be able to do a couple of different things on gameday. Then it's our job to kind of piece it together over this next four or five weeks, six weeks, and then we get into Training Camp, hit the ground running, and put them in the right position to be successful."

One of them is Bradberry, who has the veteran experience and track record of success to elevate the Eagles in the secondary. All of that will come. The regular season begins on September 11 in Detroit. For now, it's a day-by-day process.

"I think he's a really good addition for us," Gannon said.

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