Many Arizona Cardinals fans were surprised when linebacker Stewart Bradley, who recently signed a five-year deal as a free agent, was placed so far down the depth chart. Bradley was a starter in Philadelphia his past two seasons and is highly regarded for his talent.
The reason he's not starting is pretty simple, he's not ready.
"The learning curve for him has been difficult because of what we're asking him to do based on where he was before as a player," Coach Ken Whisenhunt said after Thursday's preseason game.
Bradley has played his entire pro career with the Eagles who play a 4-3 defense. Adjusting to the Cardinals 3-4 system is taking some time. Without the benefit of mini-camps and OTAs it's taken even longer.
"The 3-4 to a 4-3 is just such a different mindset," Bradley said. "At first, the whole what you're seeing is so different. You have three down lineman and you have a nose (tackle) in there and he's kind of two-gapin'. It was an adjustment...As we role through here I'm feeling better and better about it."
Bradley clearly has his eyes set on returning to a starters job but he was tactful about how he expressed that.
"Obviously, I want to come in and be a starter. The goal of every player should be that. As I get more comfortable, hopefully, we'll see what happens."
Bradley said he's happy with 3-4 scheme that places more emphasis on the linebackers and therefore is more fun for him to play. He came up with a big interception in the game Thursday against Denver demonstrating some of that freedom.
He said he noticed the Broncos had run some similar routes earlier in the game so he "sat over there" and was able to pick off the ball.
Whisenhunt joked after the game about Bradley's cability to run with the rock after he snared it, but obviously, no one's going to complain if he continues to use his presence in the middle of the field to disrupt the other team's flow.