Broncos, Panthers Carry Contrasting Cornerback Philosophies

ENGLEWOOD — Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. have been playing cornerback together for so long, they know what the other is going to say.

Follow the dollars and it’s clear the Denver Broncos value the cornerback position far more than the Carolina Panthers do. 

“They play cover 2,’’ Talib and Harris said in unison as way of explanation Tuesday while sitting side by side at their Broncos lockers.

The Broncos are paying Talib and Harris a combined $16 million this season. They are both in your face, man-to-man, track their guy all over the field cornerbacks.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are expected to start two rookie corners in the NFL season opener Thursday in Denver. Carolina is known for playing two-deep safety coverage with the cornerbacks covering a zone area on their side of the field.

“Zone, you get to have vision of the quarterback,’’ Harris said. “That should help them out a little bit.’’

Rather than pay Josh Norman his $13.95 million franchise tag salary this year, the Panthers essentially released their All Pro cornerback and replaced him with second-round draft pick James Bradberry. Injuries elsewhere in the secondary may help third-round rookie Daryl Worley start at the other corner.

Bradberry and Worley would be only the second rookie corner duo to start a season since 1991, and first since the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs with Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr.

To each their own. The Broncos ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense last season while Carolina was No. 6.

Still, if it’s about the Jimmys and the Joes and not the Xs and Os, you have to like the chances of Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders having a nice game Thursday night.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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