Locked-in Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby ready for big chance
Josh Norman had seven interceptions in four years for Carolina and signed a contract with Washington in 2016 that included a guaranteed $36.5 million.
In 2017, A.J. Bouye, after six interceptions in four years for Houston, joined Jacksonville for $26 million guaranteed.
And in March, Malcolm Butler turned eight interceptions over four years with New England into $24 million guaranteed with Tennessee.
That is the kind of money at stake this year for Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who has six interceptions in four years. If he can take advantage of being an every-down player after Aqib Talib’s trade to the Los Angeles Rams, Roby will be in position to cash in.
The Broncos need Roby to play like a starter alongside top cornerback Chris Harris. The depth chart behind Harris and Roby is veteran Tramaine Brock (injured) and young players Brandon Langley, Isaac Yiadom and C.J. Smith. They are counting on Roby, not trying to replace him.
To that end, the Roby being watched during training camp may be different than the Roby from previous seasons.
“Just staying locked into what I need to do and the things I need to do better,” Roby said after practice Tuesday. “I’m just football 24/7. It’s all I think about. It’s all that’s on my mind. That was the biggest thing this offseason.”
Roby said he watched more game film during the offseason so when teams give clues with their personnel, formation or motion, he can diagnose the potential routes quickly and be in position to make plays.
Roby’s key takeaway? Less could equal fewer. And less could equal more.
Less jumping of routes will mean fewer big plays allowed. And less chance-taking will mean more takeaways.
“I’m always going to make plays — that’s how I’ve always been when I’ve played football, scoring touchdowns, forcing fumbles and getting picks,” Roby said. “I know that’s going to come. I just know not to try too hard. If you just do your job, stay where you’re supposed to be, then they’ll come.”
So far in camp, Roby said he is “very pleased” with his disciplined play.
“It’s the right time for that,” he said.
Is it ever. Players like Norman, Bouye and Butler did not have a bucket of interceptions, but their game video did not lie. They were ascending cover corners and were paid as such.
Like that trio, Roby was weened into the starting lineup. He has only 14 starts among his 64 career games, but has 185 tackles, 48 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph praised Roby’s progress with an interesting twist.
“I told Bradley, ‘I don’t want to judge you on how many plays you make; you’re judged on how many plays you give up,’ ” Joseph said. “If (Roby is) in good position, he’ll make enough plays, but don’t cheat and gamble to make plays because that’s not what winning is about. He’s doing a good job of playing within the scheme and not worrying about making every play, but just doing his job.
“That’s cornerback play in this league.”